MARIE KNIGHT, RICH-VOICED GOSPEL SINGER
Published: September 2, 2009
Marie Knight, whose rich, room-filling contralto voice provided the ideal counterweight to Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s more penetrating higher register on some of the most popular gospel records of the 1940s, died Sunday in Manhattan. She was 89.
Marie Knight at the Bottom Line in New York in 2003.
The cause was complications of pneumonia, said Mark Carpentieri, her manager and the owner of M.C. Records.
Mrs. Knight, began singing gospel music as a child in the Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal denomination that produced some of the most potent voices in gospel music, including that of Rosetta Tharpe, who died in 1973.
After joining forces in 1946 and touring together, she and Sister Rosetta released several call-and-response gospel songs for Decca that broke through to the rhythm and blues charts, an almost unheard-of feat. “Precious Memories,” “Up Above My Head,” “Didn’t It Rain” and “Beams of Heaven” established them as one of the top gospel acts of the era.
“They meshed very well,” said Anthony Heilbut, “ author of “The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times.” “Marie’s style was plain and understated, but she had a big, beautiful voice. The combination was magic.”
The duo split up in the mid-1950s and Mrs. Knight began singing rhythm and blues as well as gospel. “Tell Me Why,” a gospel-tinged ballad released in 1956, became a hit for Gale Storm, and Mrs. Knight turned in an animated, very Rosetta-like performance on “I Can’t Sit Down” (1959), with Rex Marvin, under the name Marie and Rex.
She later toured with rhythm and blues acts like the Drifters, Clyde McPhatter and Brook Benton.
Her gospel career was rejuvenated after she sang a solo version of “Didn’t It Rain” on the album “Shout, Sister, Shout: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe,” released in 2003 by M.C. Records.
Marie Roach grew up in Newark. She gave her birth year as 1925, but in fact she was born in 1920. As a child she sang in the youth choir at her church and taught herself piano.
Before long she was singing solo.
“They used to stand me up on a table in the church, and I would sing to the people,” she told an interviewer for her 2007 CD “Let Us Get Together: A Tribute to Reverend Gary Davis.” “I would sing ‘Doing All the Good We Can,’ and they would clap their hands, and I was so excited over that.”
In 1941 she married Albert Knight. The marriage ended in divorce. While she was touring with Sister Rosetta in the 1940s, her two children died in a fire at her mother’s house in New Jersey. She is survived by a sister, Bernice Henry.
By her early 20s Mrs. Knight was recording solo and with a male gospel group, the Sunset Four. In 1946, Mahalia Jackson, appearing at the Golden Gate Ballroom in Harlem, invited her onstage to sing. Sister Rosetta, in the audience, took Mrs. Knight to Decca Records, her label since the late 1930s, and the two began recording as a duo and also as solo acts. Mrs. Knight, for example, recorded the single “Gospel Train” as a solo.
“She brought Rosetta a hipper perspective on gospel,” Mr. Heilbut said. “Rosetta’s style came from the 1920s and 1930s, but Marie was current with new developments.”
Even after parting ways with Sister Rosetta, Mrs. Knight continued to sing with partners. She recorded a gospel album with Thomasena Stewart and paired up with Erie Gladney, Vivian Cooper and her sister Bernice; in a pinch she dubbed over her own voice to create a duet.
As her music career waned, she took a job with the telephone company and became a minister at the Gates of Prayer Church in Harlem. Gospel fans never forgot her, however.
In 1976, Mr. Heilbut produced the album “Today,” and in 1979 Savoy Records released “Lord, I’ve Tried.” After singing on “Shout, Sister, Shout,” she began performing, with gusto.
“As recently as this year she was hounding me for work,” Mr. Carpentieri said. “We got her some dates too.”
CHRIS CONNOR, WHOSE VOICE EMBODIED COOL JAZZ
Published: September 1, 2009
Chris Connor, the great jazz singer whose lush, foggy voice and compressed emotional intensity distilled a 1950s jazz reverie of faraway longing in a sad cafe, died on Saturday in Toms River, N.J. She was 81 and lived in Toms River.
Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Chris Connor at the club Sweet Basil in 1981.
Ms. Connor performing at a Peggy Lee tribute concert at Carnegie Hall in the 2003 JVC festival.
The cause was cancer, her publicist, Alan Eichler, said.
A singer who used little vibrato and was admired for her inventive rhythmic alterations of ballads, Ms. Connor belonged to the cool school of jazz singers that included Anita O’Day, June Christy, Chet Baker and Julie London.
In her finest records, she conveyed the sound of a singer rapt in a romantic spell. Both O’Day and Christy, whom she emulated, preceded her as vocalists with the Stan Kenton band, which she joined briefly in 1953, replacing Christy. Ms. Connor had earlier sung with the Claude Thornhill band.
During her solo recording career, which began in 1953, Ms. Connor had only two charted hits: “I Miss You So” (1956) and “Trust In Me” (1957), both for Atlantic Records. But for jazz vocal aficionados, her signature song, “All About Ronnie,” Joe Greene’s smoldering ballad of romantic obsession, is a pop-jazz milestone of dreamy cool. Originally recorded with Kenton, she re-recorded it on Bethlehem Records after she went solo.
Today, many of Ms. Connor’s 1950s and ’60s albums are regarded as pop-jazz classics. Among the strongest are three from 1956, “Chris Connor,” “I Miss You So” and “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not,” as well as “Chris Connor Sings the George Gershwin Almanac of Song” (1957) and “A Portrait of Chris” (1960).
She recorded two highly regarded albums, one for the Atlantic, the other for ABC Paramount, with the Maynard Ferguson big band.
Especially during the Atlantic years, Ms. Connor worked with the best arrangers, including Ralph Burns and Jimmy Jones, and jazz players like John Lewis, Oscar Pettiford, Phil Woods, Kenny Burrell, Milt Hinton, Clark Terry and Oliver Nelson. Other songs with which she is associated include “Lush Life,” “Good Morning Heartache,” “Something to Live For,” “High on a Windy Hill,” “Round About,” Lullaby of Birdland,” “Witchcraft,” “Glad to Be Unhappy” and “Get Out of Town.”
Born Mary Loutsenhizer in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 8, 1927, Ms. Connor studied clarinet for eight years as a child before becoming a singer in her late teens. She decided to pursue a fulltime career after her public singing debut in 1945 at the Jefferson City (Mo.) Junior College graduation was warmly received.
Ms. Connor worked as a stenographer by day and sang on weekends in the Kansas City area. Then, determined to hit the big time, she moved to New York City. There she met Thornhill, who was seeking a singer to fill out his vocal group, the Snowflakes. She toured with the band on and off until late 1952.
Her dream of singing with Kenton was realized when Christy, who had been planning to leave Kenton, heard her on a live broadcast in early 1953 and recommended her as a replacement. Within days, Ms. Connor auditioned and began touring with the band.
The rigors of the road, however, took their toll, and she left after 10 months to go solo. She signed with Bethlehem Records, which simultaneously released two 10-inch LPs, “Chris Connor Sings Lullabys of Birdland and “Chris Connor Sings Lullabys for Lovers.” They were hugely successful.
In 1956, she became one of the first white female jazz singers signed to Atlantic Records and recorded more than a dozen albums for the label. In 1963, however, when it came time to renew her contract, she decided instead to sign with her manager Monte Kay’s small label, FM. The label declared bankruptcy the following year.
That unfortunate decision coincided with the rock ’n’ roll insurgence, which swept aside singers like Ms. Connor, and her career never fully recovered. She endured what she later described as a bad period that lasted until the early ’70s.
Her setbacks were compounded by a worsening drinking problem, which she eventually overcame. Her 1980s comeback revealed a voice that was physically stronger than ever, but its emotional elixir was diluted. She continued to perform and to record for small labels. Her last three records, “Haunted Heart,” “I Walk With Music,” and “Everything I Love,” were released on Highnote Records, the final album in 2003.
Ms. Connor is survived by her longtime partner and manager, Lori Muscarelle.
LOUIS ROSEN, WORKED ON THE ATOMIC BOMB
Published: September 5, 2009
On May 9, 1951, on a coral atoll in the Pacific, scientists ignited what they hoped would be the first man-made thermonuclear reaction, the basis of the hydrogen bomb. A fireball rose 1,800 feet.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Louis Rosen in his office at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he spent his entire career.
But the explosion alone, awe-inspiring though it was, was not enough to convince one eyewitness, Edward Teller, considered the father of the H-bomb, that thermonuclear fusion had indeed occurred. For that he had to wait for the results of a test devised by two young fellow physicists who worked with him at Los Alamos, N.M., where the first atomic bombs had been built.
At 5:30 the next morning, one of those colleagues, Louis Rosen, told Dr. Teller the exhilarating news: yes, fusion had been achieved. Dr. Teller promptly raced out to pay off a $5 bet.
He had bet against himself, wagering with a colleague that fusion would not occur.
Dr. Rosen died on Aug. 15 in Albuquerque at the age of 91; his granddaughter, Ambyr Hardy, said a subdural hematoma was the cause.
He was one of the last surviving links to the scientific giants who had created the atomic age — men like J. Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi as well as Dr. Teller. But more than that, he had also advanced the era.
Dr. Rosen was a lifer at Los Alamos. Where other scientists drifted away, he spent his career there, and built the most intense atom smasher in the world. He was also part ambassador, part lobbyist for the Los Alamos National Laboratory, promoting its continuing importance as a center not only of weapons development but also of basic research.
His atom smasher was his most spectacular project. “This monstrous gadget will give us new windows on the nucleus, a new set of probes,” he said in an interview with The New York Times.
Existing accelerators at the time smashed a high-speed beam of protons or electrons into a target. The resulting debris of subatomic particles would yield information on the composition of the nucleus. Dr. Rosen’s machine used the beam of protons to create a secondary, highly intense beam of particles called pi mesons, or pions.
When smashed into the target material, the meson beam — 1,000 times as intense as that of any existing accelerator — could be used as a probe to study how pions interact with other nuclear materials. The continuous interchange of pions between proton and neutron is part of the glue holding the nucleus together.
By contrast, higher-energy but less intense accelerators obliterated more of the nucleus but could not study the same kind of internal nuclear dynamics.
Another scientist at the time compared the two kinds of accelerator this way: think of the earlier version as hitting the nucleus with a baseball bat, and Dr. Rosen’s as doing so with a rapier.
In an article in Physics Today in 1966, Dr. Rosen called his machine “a badly needed bridge between nuclear and subnuclear physics.”
In the 1990s, after Dr. Rosen had formally retired but remained involved in decision making, the group at Los Alamos in charge of the accelerator shifted course, in line with changing directions in physics. No longer did it harvest pions. Instead, it concentrated on neutrons, which were being used in more and more basic research and in practical applications.
One application was to probe stockpiled nuclear weapons that could no longer be tested. Other applications included studying the structure of complex biological molecules and re-examining the nuclear fuel cycle. In particular, Los Alamos became known for testing neutrons in very cold temperatures — a tiny fraction of a degree above absolute zero.
Louis Rosen was born in Manhattan, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama, and a doctorate in physics from Pennsylvania State University. He said he never took a course in nuclear physics.
With his doctorate he went directly to Los Alamos to join the Manhattan Project, the code name for the group of scientists, mathematicians and engineers who built the first nuclear bombs. He worked at the laboratory until two days before his death.
Dr. Rosen’s wife of more than 60 years, the former Mary Terry, died in 2004. He is survived by his brother, Bernard; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
After the war, as many scientists began to leave Los Alamos, Dr. Rosen set about trying to retain as many as he could as well attract top-level replacements. It was partly with this in mind that he and Norman Bradbury, the laboratory’s director, came up with the idea of the accelerator. Dr. Rosen lobbied federal agencies and members of Congress alike for support.
Writing in 1983 in Los Alamos Science, Dr. Rosen recalled a visit by the comptroller of the Atomic Energy Commission, who spotted him in the audience.
“Ah, Louis Rosen is here,” the official said. “Every time I talk to him it costs me a million dollars.”
WYCLIFFE JOHNSON, REGGAE MUSICIAN AND PRODUCER
By ROB KENNER
Published: September 5, 2009
Wycliffe Johnson, an innovative composer and producer known as Steely, who held sway over two decades of reggae music, died on Tuesday in East Patchogue, N.Y. He was 47 and lived in Kingston, Jamaica.
The cause was a heart attack following pneumonia, said his daughter Kerry Johnson. He had moved to Brooklyn this summer for treatment of kidney problems related to hypertension and diabetes, she said, and died at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital several weeks after surgery for a blood clot in the brain.
The reggae world knew Mr. Johnson as Steely, a boisterous producer with a larger-than-life personality and a belly to match. Best known for his role in the team Steely & Clevie, he was equally influential in his early work as a sideman, and helped to transform reggae at several stages, from roots to dancehall to digital.
An expert keyboardist who worked with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer, Mr. Johnson worked at seminal Jamaican recording studios like Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One, Lee (Scratch) Perry’s Black Ark and Sugar Minott’s Youth Promotion. By some estimates he participated in more sessions than anyone else in the history of reggae.
Born and raised in the same Trenchtown streets as Marley, Mr. Johnson was largely self-taught. When he was 12, the drummer Cleveland Browne, known as Clevie, invited him home for daily rehearsals with him and his brothers. “We basically learned together,” Mr. Browne said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “Steely became like part of the family.”
As a child, Mr. Johnson would hang around Channel One Studio in Kingston, fetching drinks for the influential drum-and-bass duo Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, known as Sly & Robbie. When those two left Channel One, the band the Roots Radics, with Mr. Johnson as keyboardist and chief arranger, became Jamaica’s most in-demand rhythm section.
In the early 1980s Mr. Johnson and the Roots Radics pioneered the muscular, stripped-down reggae sound that would come to be known as dancehall, performing on records like Cocoa Tea’s “Lost My Sonia,” Freddie McGregor’s “Big Ship,” Yellowman’s “Zungguzungguguzungguzeng ” and Michael Prophet’s “Gunman.”
A few years later Mr. Johnson helped revolutionize the sound of reggae again. While other musicians resisted the digital tide of the 1980s, Steely & Clevie embraced it, pushing the technology of the day to its limits. At the studio owned by the producer King Jammy, in the Waterhouse neighborhood, the two worked with the engineer Bobby Digital and the songwriter-producer Mikey Bennett to record a vast catalog of hard-hitting “ana-digital” (part analog, part digital) instrumentals like “Punany,” “Cat’s Paw” and “Duck Dance” — all of which are still recycled by younger producers more than 20 years later.
Mr. Johnson’s digital bass lines and graceful keyboard riffs invested mid-1980s dancehall — in its so-called computerized style —with melody, groove and an unmistakably human touch. The two also laid down rhythm tracks for top dancehall labels like Penthouse, Techniques and Music Works. By their accounting, they worked on 75 percent of the hit reggae records of the late 1980s.
After Steely & Clevie left Jammy’s to start their own record label, bearing their names, in 1988, Mr. Johnson established the Silverhawk sound system, named after a favorite motorcycle. As a kind of mobile discothèque, the system offered a peerless selection of exclusive records, serving both as a promotional tool and as a laboratory for testing street-crowd reaction to songs being considered for release.
Mr. Johnson produced career-making records for luminaries like the crooner Gregory Isaacs and the dancehall star Super Cat, whose hit “Boops” spawned many imitations, including the 1987 Boogie Down Productions rap classic “The Bridge Is Over.”
Signing to a publishing deal with EMI in 1990, Steely & Clevie also collaborated with international acts like Billy Ocean, Heavy D, Caron Wheeler and No Doubt. They scored a Top 40 hit in the United States with their 1994 revamping of Dawn Penn’s Studio One classic “You Don’t Love Me (No No No)” and reached the Top 5 in 2004 with another vintage reggae remake, Sean Paul and Sasha’s “I’m Still in Love With You.”
Besides his daughter Kerry, Mr. Johnson’s survivors include four other children, Shae, Shanice, Daniel and Cailon, and his mother, Alice Johnson.
ISMAEL VALENZUELA, HALL OF FAME JOCKEY
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 2, 2009
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — The Hall of Fame jockey Ismael Valenzuela, known as Milo, who twice won the Kentucky Derby and rode the five-time horse of the year Kelso in the 1960s, died Wednesday at his home near Santa Anita Park. He was 74.
Valenzuela’s daughter Diana announced the death, which came after a long illness. Valenzuela rode from 1951 to 1980, winning 2,545 races and earning purses of more than $20 million. Twice, he won two legs of the Triple Crown, only to come in second in the third, the Belmont Stakes.
In 1958, Valenzuela won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes aboard Tim Tam. They finished second to Cavan in the Belmont.
Ten years later, Valenzuela and Forward Pass finished second to Dancer’s Image in the Derby. Dancer’s Image was disqualified and placed last after a positive drug test, the only disqualification in the Derby’s 135-year history. That resulted in Forward Pass’s being credited with the victory.
Valenzuela and Forward Pass went on to win the Preakness, but their Triple Crown bid was again dashed in the Belmont, when they were beaten by one and a quarter lengths by Stage Door Johnny.
Valenzuela was Kelso’s regular rider, and together they won 22 of 35 races, including 19 stakes. He also rode the Hall of Fame horses Affectionately, Cicada, Native Diver, Round Table and Searching. Valenzuela won more than 130 major races, including the Arlington Classic, the Arlington-Washington Futurity, the Blue Grass Stakes and the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Born in McNary, Tex., Valenzuela was the third of 22 children. He competed in match races before he turned 10 and gained experience riding quarterhorses before switching to thoroughbreds. He won his first race on April 8, 1951, at Rillito Park in Tucson.
In 2008, Valenzuela was elected to the National Racing Hall of Fame by the historic review committee. He was unable to travel to Saratoga Springs, so he was inducted at Santa Anita, the first time an induction had taken place outside New York state.
Besides his daughter Diana, his survivors include his wife, the former Rose Delia Mendoza; four other children, Ismael Jr., Patricia, Johnny and Richard; 13 grandchildren; and 4 great-grandchildren.
SHEILA LUKINS, STORE OWNER AND COOKBOOK AUTHOR
NEW YORK (AP) – Sheila Lukins, the store owner and cookbook author who helped change how America eats, has died. She was 66.
Lukins died Sunday at her Manhattan home, according to longtime colleague Laurie Griffith. She had been diagnosed with brain cancer three months ago.
Born in Philadelphia, Lukins got her education in the fine arts, graduating from New York University with a degree in Art Education. But in the 1970s, after she had spent some time at the Cordon Bleu in London and had worked with some chefs in France, she returned the New York and started a catering business. In 1977, she co-founded The Silver Palate, a shop on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that introduced people to flavors from places such as Greece and Morocco.
“She had a wonderful flair for putting together interesting combinations of flavors,” said Griffith, who worked with Lukins for many years on her cookbooks.
“I think she changed the way we eat.”
In 1982 , “The Silver Palate Cookbook” was released, one of a number of cookbooks Lukins would work on, including “All Around the World Cookbook” and “The New Basics Cookbook.” Her books have sold several million copies.
Lukins also was the food editor at Parade magazine. She was inducted the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America in 1992. She sold her interest in The Silver Palate in 1988, and the store was closed in 1993.
Lukins is survived by two daughters, Annabel Lukins Stelling and Molly Burke; two grandchildren, and two siblings.
ADAM GOLDSTEIN, SOUGHT-AFTER DISC JOCKEY
NEW YORK (AP) — DJ AM, the sought-after disc jockey who became a celebrity in his own right with high-profile romances and a glamorous lifestyle, was found dead Friday at his apartment, which had drug paraphernalia in it, a law enforcement official said.
Paramedics had to break down the door to his Manhattan apartment before they found his body at about 5:20 p.m., the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because family hadn’t been notified. There was no evidence of foul play, the official said.
DJ AM, whose real name was Adam Goldstein, had talked openly about past addictions to crack cocaine, Ecstasy and other drugs, but he claimed he had been drug-free for years.
He died nearly a year after surviving a South Carolina plane crash that killed four people and seriously injured rock musician Travis Barker.
Goldstein, 36, was a deejay for hire who performed at Hollywood’s most exclusive parties and was admired by music aficionados. He also was famous for past relationships with the reality TV star Nicole Richie, the daughter of singer Lionel Richie, and with actress-singer Mandy Moore.
Goldstein was critically injured last September when a Learjet crashed on takeoff in Columbia, S.C. The plane was transporting Goldstein and Barker, a drummer for the pop punk band Blink-182, after a performance; the pair had formed the duo TRVSDJ-AM.
Barker and Goldstein were burned, though Barker was injured more severely. Goldstein had to get skin graft surgery, but about a month later, he was performing again, joining Jay-Z on stage.
At the time, he told People magazine he was grateful to survive.
“I can’t believe I made it,” he said. “I’ve prayed every night for the past 10 years. There’s a lot more to thank God for now. … I was saved for a reason. Maybe I’m going to help someone else. I don’t question it. All I know is I’m thankful to be here.”
Goldstein rose to fame several years ago as highly sought-after DJ whose beats kept the dance floor packed and clubgoers hypnotized.
Celebrities and fans instantly shared their reactions to his death on Twitter, where “RIP DJ AM” was the No. 1 topic Friday.
“I’m stunned. Rest in peace Adam,” singer-songwriter Josh Groban posted.
“So horrible. In shock,” wrote TV host Maria Menounos.
“Thoughts and strength goes out to friends and family,” entertainer Solange Knowles wrote.
“He survived a deadly plane crash and now THIS,” blogger Perez Hilton tweeted. “I can’t stop crying.”
Representatives for Moore and Barker didn’t immediately return telephone messages seeking comment on the DJ’s death.
KIM DAE-JUNG, FORMER PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Former President Kim Dae-jung, who spent years as a dissident under South Korea’s military dictatorship and later won the Nobel Peace Prize for seeking reconciliation with communist North Korea, has died. He was 85.
Kim, who had been hospitalized with pneumonia since last month, died shortly after 1:40 p.m. (0440 GMT) on Tuesday, said Park Chang-il, chief of Severance Hospital in Seoul. He said Kim suffered respiratory distress, a pulmonary embolism and multiple organ failure.
The Nobel laureate’s wife, three sons and former aides were at his side, according to lawmaker Park Jie-won, Kim’s former presidential chief of staff.
South Korean leaders, from friends to former foes, had been paying their respects for days at the hospital to a man whose epic career spanned South Korea’s evolution from a brutal military dictatorship to a full-fledged democracy and global economic leader.
“We lost a great political leader,” President Lee Myung-bak said in a statement. “His accomplishments and aspirations to achieve democratization and inter-Korean reconciliation will long be remembered by the people.”
Kim built a reputation as a passionate champion of human rights and democracy who fought against South Korea’s military dictatorships and survived several suspected assassination attempts, including a 1973 abduction in Tokyo hotel by South Korean agents.
Once president, he was the architect of the “Sunshine Policy” — a novel approach to relations with North Korea that sought to bring the two wartime rivals closer as a way to encourage reconciliation.
His efforts led to an unprecedented thaw in relations with the North and culminated in a historic North-South summit — the first on the divided peninsula — in Pyongyang with leader Kim Jong Il in 2000.
His successor, the late President Roh Moo-hyun — who committed suicide three months ago amid a broadening corruption probe focused on the Roh family — maintained the Sunshine Policy. But Kim Dae-jung saw his work unravel when Lee, a conservative, took office in 2008, and conditioned aid to the North on the regime’s commitment to nuclear disarmament.
In response, North Korea cut nearly all ties with the South, suspended several joint projects born of warming ties and threatened to restart its nuclear programs. But Kim continued to advocate engagement with Pyongyang.
“The South and North have never been free from mutual fear and animosity over the past half-century — not even for a single day,” he told reporters in January. “When we cooperate, both Koreas will enjoy peace and economic prosperity.”
On Monday, North Korea announced it would restart some of the joint projects, including the reunions of families divided for decades by the 1950-53 Korean War.
Several dates are given for his birth, but Kim was born into a farming family in South Jeolla province in Korea’s southwest when the country was still under Japanese colonial rule.
Kim went into business after World War II ended Japanese rule, but as South Korea’s fledgling government veered toward authoritarianism after the peninsula’s war, he resolved to go into politics.
After three losing bids, he was elected to the National Assembly in 1961. Days later, Maj. Gen. Park Chung-hee staged a military coup and dissolved parliament.
Kim ran for the presidency a decade later, nearly defeating Park. The close call prompted Park to tinker with the Constitution to guarantee his rule in the future.
Just weeks after the presidential election, Kim was in a traffic accident he believed was an attempt on his life. For the rest of his life, he walked with a limp and sometimes used a cane.
In another apparent assassination attempt in 1973, suspected South Korean agents broke into his Tokyo hotel room and dragged him to a ship where he claimed they planned to dump him at sea. But the U.S. intervened, sending an American military helicopter flying low over the ship, and the would-be assassins abandoned their plan.
Upon his return to Seoul, Kim was put under house arrest by the Park government and then imprisoned. His release came only after Park’s assassination by own his spy chief in late 1979.
Kim was pardoned a few months later. But the drama did not end there.
Weeks after Park’s death, military leader Chun Doo-hwan seized power. Five months later, tens of thousands in the southern city of Gwangju took to the streets to protest the junta’s rule.
Tanks rolled in to suppress the uprising; the official toll was 200 dead but activists say the real count was far higher.
Accusing Kim of fomenting the uprising in his political stronghold, a military tribunal sentenced the opposition leader to death. Washington intervened again, and the sentence was commuted to life and later reduced to 20 years in prison.
A few months later, his sentence was suspended and he left for exile in the U.S., remaining there until 1985.
After two more unsuccessful runs for the presidency, Kim was elected to the nation’s top office in 1997 at the age of 72. He served from 1998 to 2003.
The defining moment of the Kim Dae-jung’s presidency was his historic meeting with North Korea’s Kim in Pyongyang in 2000.
The summit eased decades of tensions and ushered in a new era of unprecedented reconciliation. Families divided for decades held tearful reunions, and South Koreans began touring North Korea’s famed scenic spots.
His efforts won him the Nobel Peace Prize, and he remains South Korea’s only Nobel laureate.
“In my life, I’ve lived with the conviction that justice wins,” he said in accepting the honor. “Justice may fail in one’s lifetime, but it will eventually win in the course of history.”
But critics accused him of propping up the communist regime with aid, reportedly up to $1.3 billion.
And his legacy was tarnished by revelations that his administration made secret payments to North Korea before the 2000 summit. Kim defended the payments as a way to secure peace with the North.
Kim is survived by his wife and three sons: Kim Hong-up, Kim Hong-il and Kim Hong-gul. His first wife, Cha Yong-ae, died in 1960.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
(Sept. 2, 1969)
(Sept. 3, 1991)
(Sept. 4, 1965)
(Sept. 7, 1969)
(Sept. 9, 1976)
(Sept. 11, 1971)
(Sept. 14, 1901)
(Sept. 15, 1989)
(Sept. 17, 1980)
(Sept. 18, 1964)
(Sept. 20, 1947)
(Sept. 25, 1933)
(Sept. 25, 1960)
(Sept. 27, 1956)
(Sept. 28, 1991)
(Sept. 28, 2000)
(Sept. 30 , 1959)