MARGARET B. YOUNG, BLACK EDUCATOR AND WRITER
Published: December 18, 2009
Margaret B. Young, a writer and educator who was the widow of the civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr., died on Dec. 5 at her home in Denver. She was 88.
Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times
Margaret B. Young in 1971 in front of a photo of her husband, Whitney M. Young Jr.
The cause was complications of cancer, her daughter Marcia Young Cantarella said.
A professor of educational psychology at Spelman College in Atlanta in the 1950s, Mrs. Young wrote several books for children about the African-American experience. Among them are “The First Book of American Negroes” (1966), “The Picture Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.” (1968), “Black American Leaders” (1969) and “The Picture Life of Thurgood Marshall” (1971). All were published by Franklin Watts.
She also wrote a booklet for parents, “How to Bring Up Your Child Without Prejudice” (Public Affairs Committee, 1965).
Mrs. Young was much in the news after the death of her husband, who was the executive director of the National Urban League from 1961 until his death. Mr. Young died in 1971, at 49, in a swimming accident in Nigeria.
Afterward, Mrs. Young was the chairwoman and executive director of the Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Foundation, dedicated to training young black leaders in the field of social relations. She closed the foundation in 1990, on her retirement.
Mrs. Young served on the boards of many nonprofit organizations, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Dance Theater of Harlem and the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. She also served on corporate boards, including the New York Life Insurance Company.
She was a member of the United States delegation to the 28th General Assembly of the United Nations in 1973.
The fourth of five daughters, Margaret Buckner was born in Campbellsville, Ky., in 1921. Her parents, Frank Buckner and the former Eva Carter, were teachers in Kentucky’s segregated school system. After the family moved to Aurora, Ill., when Margaret was a girl, Mr. Buckner became a fireman.
Margaret hoped to become a writer, she later said in interviews, but circumstances would not allow it. “I was a Depression baby and one of five girls all wanting to go to college,” she told The New York Post in 1967. “I had to be practical and knew I could always teach.”
In 1942 she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and French from Kentucky State College for Negroes, as it was then known. (It is now Kentucky State University.) She married Mr. Young, a college classmate, two years later, and afterward earned a master’s in educational psychology and testing from the University of Minnesota.
Mrs. Young never remarried. Besides her daughter Mrs. Cantarella, of Manhattan, she is survived by another daughter, Lauren Young Casteel of Denver; four grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
ROY E. DISNEY, REJUVENATED ANIMATION
Published: December 17, 2009
LOS ANGELES — Roy E. Disney
, who helped revitalize the famed animation division of the company founded by his uncle, Walt Disney, and who at times publicly feuded with top Disney executives, died on Wednesday in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 79.
Tony Ranze/Agence France-Presse
Roy E. Disney, shown in 1996, was considered a tough and outspoken critic of top executives at the Walt Disney Company.
His death, at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, was caused by stomach cancer, a spokeswoman for the Walt Disney Company said. Mr. Disney, who had homes in Newport Beach and the Toluca Lake district of Los Angeles, was the last member of the Disney family to work at the entertainment conglomerate built by his uncle and his father, Roy O. Disney.
As a boy the younger Roy would play in the halls of his uncle’s studio, where animators often used him as a test audience as they toiled on movies like “Pinocchio.” As an adult he helped bring the animation studio back from the brink, overseeing a creative renaissance that led to “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King.”
But the soft-spoken Mr. Disney was primarily known for a willingness to question the company’s top managers, aggressively and publicly, when he felt they were mishandling the family empire. Some people in the company referred to him as its real-life Jiminy Cricket: a living conscience who was at times intensely disliked by management for speaking out.
In 1984, when the company weathered two takeover attempts, Mr. Disney helped force the resignation of Ronald W. Miller — the husband of Walt Disney’s daughter, Diane — as chief executive. In 2004, a time when Pixar was pummeling Disney at the box office, Mr. Disney helped lead an investor uprising that culminated with the departure of Michael D. Eisner as chief executive and chairman.
Along the way, Mr. Disney organized Shamrock Holdings, a family investment enterprise that became known for instigating hostile takeovers, including an ultimately failed one of Polaroid in the late 1980s.
“Roy was a man who was steadfastly loyal to his principles,” said Stanley Gold, Shamrock’s president. “He was a gracious, humble gentleman who could make the tough decisions life sometimes requires.”
Roy E. Disney was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 10, 1930, and had a childhood that most people can only dream about. While playing at the studio, his uncle would occasionally take a break to read storybooks to him. Mr. Disney once remarked: “The animators used to test stuff out on me. They’d say, ‘Come on in and watch this and see if you think it’s funny.’ ”
Mr. Disney began his entertainment career in 1952 as an assistant film editor on “Dragnet,” the landmark television show. He joined Disney in 1953 and worked on nature documentaries like “The Living Desert” and “The Vanishing Prairie,” which both won Oscars. He also wrote for “Zorro.”
Although he retained a board seat, he left the company in 1977 after disagreements with Mr. Miller and became an independent producer.
Returning to the company in 1984, Mr. Disney set about revitalizing the floundering animation division. He obtained financing, for instance, for a computerized postproduction facility, helping to make possible the revolving ballroom scene in “Beauty and the Beast.”
Walt Disney had planned a sequel to “Fantasia,” the groundbreaking 1942 film that used animation to interpret classical music, but he died in 1966 before he could complete it. His nephew, Roy, took over the project and made it his passion, spending nine years on its execution. “Fantasia 2000” sold about $91 million in tickets worldwide, a disappointing total given its cost and time commitment.
Mr. Disney also pursued sailing. He set time records for offshore yacht racing on the Pacific Ocean, including the Los Angeles-to-Honolulu Transpac Race, which he won in his boat, the Pyewacket, in 1999 in just over seven days. A vacation home — a castle, actually — in Ireland was a favorite retreat.
Mr. Disney resigned for the second time in 2003 citing “serious differences of opinion about the direction and style of management” and started agitating for Mr. Eisner’s ouster. In 2005, after Mr. Eisner had announced his departure, Mr. Disney became director emeritus and a consultant, titles he held until his death.
Survivors include his wife, Leslie DeMeuse Disney. He is also survived by his former wife of 52 years, Patricia Dailey Disney, and four of their children: Tim, Roy Patrick, Abigail and Susan Disney Lord; and by 16 grandchildren.
Mr. Disney was a big fan of referring to the past to define the future. He told a biographer: “The goal is to look over our shoulder and see Snow White and Pinocchio and Dumbo standing there saying, ‘Be this good.’ We shouldn’t be intimidated by them; they’re an arrow pointing someplace.”
DR. TSHABALALA-MSIMANG, SOUTH AFRICAN DERIDED ON AIDS
Published: December 16, 2009
Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who as South Africa’s health minister drew international censure for questioning the causal connection between H.I.V.
and AIDS and for promoting dietary measures rather than drugs to treat AIDS, a policy that was held responsible for hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, died Wednesday in Johannesburg. She was 69.
Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang in 2001 before a protest of drug companies’ opposition to a law for cheaper AIDS drugs.
Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang listens to speakers during a World Aids Day commemoration in Cape Town in December 2004.
Her doctor said the cause was complications from a liver transplant in 2007, the South African Press Association reported.
Dr. Tshabalala-Msimang (pronounced cha-buh-LA-lum zih-MANG) lived in exile for nearly three decades as a member of the African National Congress, the anti-apartheid group that became South Africa’s governing party in 1994, before becoming health minister in 1999, with the election of Thabo Mbeki as president. She served in that post until he resigned last year.
Echoing Mr. Mbeki’s own widely lambasted views about AIDS, Dr. Tshabalala-Msimang advocated marshaling vitamin and nutritional forces against the H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. She maintained that foods like garlic, lemon, African potatoes and beetroot were stauncher defenses than the antiretroviral drugs that had been proved to prolong the lives of H.I.V.-positive patients and to help prevent the passage of the virus from pregnant women to their babies.
Noting that the drugs had side effects, and adopting the claims of so-called AIDS dissidents who deny a connection between H.I.V. and AIDS, she referred to the antiretroviral drugs as poison.
“She was one of the disasters of the post-apartheid era,” said Mark Gevisser, the author of “A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the Future of the South African Dream.” She was not up to the job of health minister, he added. Mr. Mbeki kept her in the job amid intense pressure to dismiss her “because she very, very quickly became his agent in the AIDS wars, and she could continue to ask questions he thought had to be asked but that he couldn’t afford, politically, to ask himself,” Mr. Gevisser said.
While Dr. Tshabalala-Msimang was health minister, the estimated number of H.I.V.-infected people in South Africa climbed to more than five million, more than in any other nation. Critics from around the world denounced a South African policy that at first opposed and then delayed the distribution of antiretroviral drugs.
Dr. Tshabalala-Msimang was derisively called Dr. Beetroot, and as time went on the criticism aimed at her and at the Mbeki AIDS policy grew more and more hostile. Speaking at an international AIDS conference in Toronto in 2006, Stephen Lewis, the United Nations envoy on AIDS, called the South African government’s drug policy “obtuse, dilatory and negligent” and said the government “continues to propound theories more worthy of a lunatic fringe than of a concerned and compassionate state.”
The damage was quantified when a study by Harvard researchers released a year ago stated that the South African AIDS policy was responsible for 365,000 premature deaths.
Dr. Tshabalala-Msimang was born in Durban on Oct. 9, 1940, and educated at the University of Fort Hare, a haven for black intellectuals (Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu both spent time there) before the African National Congress was banned from the country. In exile, she lived in the Soviet Union, where she received a medical degree, and later in Tanzania, where she studied obstetrics and gynecology.
Returning to South Africa in 1990, she at first worked in community health organizations. She was elected to Parliament in 1994 and was chairwoman of the National Assembly’s health committee. Before being appointed to the Health Ministry, she was deputy minister of justice.
Dr. Tshabalala-Msimang was married twice. Her survivors include her husband, Mendi Msimang, former treasurer of the African National Congress, and two daughters.
ARTHUR CORES, A FOUNDER OF WHAT BECAME BOSTON MARKET
Published: December 19, 2009
Arthur Cores, who went from making sandwiches at his father’s deli when he was barely more than a toddler to become a founder of the restaurant that eventually became the Boston Market chain, died Wednesday at his home in Miami Beach. He was 52.
Karen Meyer, via Associated Press
The cause was esophageal cancer, his sister, Michelle Cores Crowley, said.
Mr. Cores and a longtime friend, Steven Kolow, opened what was then called Boston Chicken in a small store in Newtonville, Mass., in December 1985. The idea was simple, Mr. Cores told The Boston Business Journal in 1990: provide customers with an alternative to the usual fast-food offerings and a way to avoid the bother of preparing a fresh meal at home.
“I saw the trend in gourmet shops that people wanted to buy plain, simple, everyday foods,” said Mr. Cores, who had previously worked at a gourmet restaurant.
At his new fast-food restaurant, chicken that had marinated for 24 hours turned on brick-fired rotisseries. Squash, mashed potatoes, sweet cornbread and an array of salad sides graced the menu, as did oatmeal cookies and chicken soup based on recipes Mr. Cores and Mr. Kolow had borrowed from their grandmothers. Long lines began to form.
Standing in line in 1988 was George Naddaff, a local businessman who had opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken stores in the Boston area. Mr. Naddaff liked what he ate and the concept behind it. He saw the possibility of a chain of restaurants and within a year had cut a deal with the partners to start the New Boston Chicken Corporation.
After selling the rights to Boston Chicken, Mr. Kolow continued to run the original restaurant and Mr. Cores joined the new firm as head of product development. By 1991, there were more than 25 restaurants in the chain.
Two other businessmen, Saad J. Nadhir and Scott Beck, bought a controlling interest in New Boston Chicken in 1992. A year later, when the corporation went public, there were 217 stores. Mr. Cores retired in 1994.
Boston Chicken became Boston Market in 1995. McDonald’s bought the chain for $173.5 million in 2000. It is now owned by a private equity firm, Sun Capital Partners, and has more than 500 restaurants in 28 states.
Arthur Richard Cores was born in Brookline, Mass., on Aug. 11, 1957, one of three children of Sidney and Rose Meister Cores. Besides his sister Michelle, of Brookline, he is survived by his spouse, John Yee, whom he married in a legal ceremony in Massachusetts in 2004; and his brother, Steven, of Bradenton, Fla.
“My father owned a deli in Cambridge and Arthur was helping there starting at 5, 6 years old,” Mr. Cores’s sister said. “He grew up in the food industry.”
AYATOLLAH MONTAZERI, IRANIAN CLERIC
Published: December 20, 2009
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the plain-spoken senior Shiite cleric who helped forge Iran
’s system of religious government and went on to become a fierce critic of its hard-line rulers, died Sunday morning at the age of 87. He died of heart failure while sleeping in his home in Qum, his son Ahmad told Iran’s official IRNA news agency.
James Hill for The New York Times
Iran’s most senior dissident cleric, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, in Qom, Iran. He died Sunday.
The ayatollah, who was once designated to succeed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Iran’s supreme leader, stepped away from the country’s hard-line path in the 1980s. He later embraced the reform movement, which has come to view him as the spiritual father of its cause.
His death was widely seen as creating a critical test of the opposition’s struggle against the government power structure led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Senior opposition leaders, including the former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karoubi, immediately began urging supporters to flock to the holy city of Qum for his funeral on Monday. And the Iranian authorities were clearly bracing for a showdown there: there were reports Sunday of riot police forces already gathering in the city, and Iranian news sites said the government was planning to close the main highway between Tehran and Qum.
In Tehran, hundreds of protesters marched at Tehran University and at the University of Science and Industrys, chanting, “Montazeri is alive!” And an opposition Web site, Peykeiran, reported that demonstrators set fire to two buses in the ayatollah’s hometown, Najafabad, and that riot police were opposing them there.
Large opposition protests had also been planned on the religious holiday of Ashura, on Dec. 27. That will coincide with the seventh day after Ayatollah Montazeri’s death, an important marker in Shiite mourning ritual.In the months since Iran’s disputed June presidential elections, Ayatollah Montazeri has issued stinging denunciations of President Ahmadinejad’s government, saying the Islamic Republic is neither Islamic nor a republic, and that Ayatollah Khamenei had lost his legitimacy. Only two weeks ago, he warned that the Basij militia — which has brutally suppressed opposition street rallies — was forsaking the “path of God” for the “path of Satan.”
Ayatollah Montazeri is widely regarded as the most knowledgeable religious scholar in Iran, and that gave his criticisms special potency, analysts say. His religious credentials also prevented the authorities from silencing or jailing him, even as they imprisoned scores of others for less inflammatory remarks.
Last month, he stunned many in Iran and abroad by apologizing for his role in the 1979 takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran, which he called a mistake. Iran’s current rulers celebrate that event every year as a foundational event of the Islamic revolution.
Ayatollah Montazeri, who has long advocated greater civil liberties and women’s rights in Iran, was clearly angered by the bloody crackdown that followed the June elections, and issued a series of remarkable broadsides against the authorities.
“A political system based on force, oppression, changing people’s votes, killing, closure, arresting and using Stalinist and medieval torture, creating repression, censorship of newspapers, interruption of the means of mass communications, jailing the enlightened and the elite of society for false reasons, and forcing them to make false confessions in jail, is condemned and illegitimate,” he wrote.
Ayatollah Montazeri was born in 1922 in Najafabad, in Isfahan Province, to a peasant family. He studied under Ayatollah Khomeini in Qum, and became involved in networks opposed to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, earning a four-year prison sentence in 1974. After the revolution in 1979, he played a central role in creating Iran’s new constitution, in part because of his authorship on the doctrine of velayat-e-faqih, or rule by clerics. But he argued that the clerics should play an advisory role in a democratic system and should not rule directly.
In the years after the revolution, Ayatollah Montazeri served as Friday prayers leader in Qum and as a deputy to Ayatollah Khomeini, who designated him as his successor in 1985. Although he lacked a large popular following, the senior ayatollah viewed him as a loyal supporter of the concept of clerical rule.
But Ayatollah Montazeri gradually began to move away from his mentor’s policies. In early 1989, after a mass execution of political prisoners, he published an article strongly condemning the decision and calling for a “political and ideological reconstruction.” He also mocked Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa calling for the murder of the novelist Salman Rushdie, saying “people in the world are getting the idea that our business in Iran is just murdering people.”
Ayatollah Khomeini quickly denounced his subordinate, who was soon stripped of his post and even his title as Grand Ayatollah. State media began to refer to him dismissively as a “simple-minded” cleric.
In 1997, Ayatollah Montazeri was placed under house arrest after openly criticizing Ayatollah Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The condition ended in 2003 after Iranian legislators called on Iran’s then-president, the reformist cleric Mohammad Khatami, to release him.
Ayatollah Montazeri continued to teach and to write prolifically, championing the reformist cause and issuing edicts calling for greater openness and democracy.
“Independence is being free of foreign intervention, and freedom is giving people the freedom to express their opinions,” he wrote recently. “Not being put in prison for every protest one utters.”
YVONNE KING BURCH OF THE KING SISTERS
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 18, 2009
SACRAMENTO (AP) — Yvonne King Burch, who gained early fame as one of the singing King Sisters
in the big-band era and later brought her extended musical clan into show business as the King Family, died on Sunday in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 89.
Yvonne King Burch in 1964.
She died after being injured in a fall, said Tina Cole, her daughter.
Ms. Burch spent three decades with the King Sisters, one of the most popular vocal groups of the 1930s and 1940s. The group over the years ranged in size from three to six members, all but one of them actually sisters.
In the early 1960s she conceived and produced a benefit concert featuring her sisters and some three dozen relatives, including brothers, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles and children. It was the debut of the King Family, and it led to an appearance on “The Hollywood Palace” in 1964. Strong fan response in turn led to a special, and later to two variety series between 1965 and 1969, as well as a number of other television appearances.
The extended family, which also included the King Cousins and the King Kiddies, toured extensively and recorded five albums for Warner Brothers.
The King Sisters, known for their complex and sophisticated four-part harmonies, performed with big bands led by Horace Heidt and Artie Shaw before starting their own ensemble with the guitarist Alvino Rey, who was married to Ms. Burch’s sister Luise. They had a series of hits in the 1930s and 1940s, including “Mairzy Doats” and “The Hut-Sut Song.”
Ms. Burch was married for 39 years to the radio and television producer William N. Burch, who died in 2005. She had two children with her first husband, the musician Buddy Cole, who died in 1964.
ORAL ROBERTS, PENTACOSTAL EVANGELIST
Published: December 15, 2009
, the Pentecostal evangelist whose televised faith-healing ministry attracted millions of followers worldwide and made him one of the most recognizable and controversial religious leaders of the 20th century, died Tuesday in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 91.
United Press International
The cause was complications of pneumonia, said Melany Ethridge, a spokeswoman for Mr. Roberts. He died at a hospital in Newport Beach, where he lived.
At the height of his influence, Mr. Roberts sat at the head of a religious, educational and communications enterprise based in Tulsa, Okla., that managed a university that bears his name, mounted healing “crusades” on five continents, preached on prime-time national television and published dozens of books and magazines.
He was the patriarch of the “prosperity gospel,” a theology that promotes the idea that Christians who pray and donate with sufficient fervency will be rewarded with health, wealth and happiness. Mr. Roberts trained and mentored several generations of younger prosperity gospel preachers who now have television and multimedia empires of their own. Mr. Roberts was as politically conservative as his contemporaries in what became known as the “religious right,” but he was known more for his religious style than for his political pronouncements. He was widely lampooned after he proclaimed on his television program in 1987 that God would “call him home” if he did not raise millions.
By 1985, the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and Oral Roberts University employed more than 2,300 people and earned $110 million in revenue. The expanse of Mr. Roberts’s ministry, coupled with his fiery preaching, tycoonlike vision and jet-set lifestyle, also attracted persistent questions throughout his career about his theology and his unorthodox fund-raising techniques, although no credible evidence of malfeasance was ever produced on his watch.
His university later fell into debt, however, and his son, Richard Roberts, was forced to leave his post as head of the university in 2007 after he was accused of using university funds for personal luxuries.
Oral Roberts, who rose from stifling poverty and a nearly fatal case of tuberculosis as a teenager, rarely fought back in public. He was convinced, he said, that God had spoken to him directly as a young man and had ordered him on the path — pursued with uncommon entrepreneurial energy — to “put Jesus into my focus at the center of all my thoughts, my dreams, my plans, my accomplishments, my destiny and any legacy I might leave behind.”
His influence derived from his intimate understanding of those who turned to him for worship. They were white and black and Hispanic, the poor and the ill, hard-working people who could not afford an abundance of material possessions but whose dreams of health and prosperity were tied to an abiding love of God.
The rise of his ministry coincided with the development of television. Mr. Roberts was among the first American religious leaders to recognize and deploy this new communications tool to touch people, and he seized on its extraordinary national and global reach. It helped that he was a natural showman, capable of booming, florid oratory. But he could also be intimate and tender, relying on a homespun speaking style, a gentle touch and a deep knowledge of Scripture to connect with his followers, many of whom viewed him as heroic.
He began his television career in 1954 by filming worship services conducted under a traveling tent, the largest of which held 10,000 people. He maintained that God worked in a miraculous way through his hands, and the peak of every service came when he seated himself like a prince on an elevated stage and worshipers gathered in a prayer line. One by one they paused before Mr. Roberts, spellbound, as his right hand gripped their bodies and he prayed for healing.
Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States and other religious denominations questioned the authenticity of the healing. In the mid-1950s, in a step that would become familiar, a group of Arizona ministers offered to pay $1,000 to anyone who had been healed by Mr. Roberts and could provide medical proof. They received no response. Still, thousands of Mr. Roberts’s followers asserted that they had been cured by his hand alone.
On the first night of a 10-day crusade in Harrisburg, Pa., for example, a frail boy stricken by polio and epilepsy rose unsteadily to his feet after Mr. Roberts had touched him. Of his doubters, Mr. Roberts said at the time: “I’ll leave them to their theology. I’m out to save souls. I have more friends among doctors than among ministers.”
Mr. Roberts’s will to succeed, as well as his fame, helped to elevate Pentecostal theology and practice, including the belief in faith healing, divine miracles and speaking in tongues, to the religious mainstream. During the 1970s, Time magazine reported, his television program “Oral Roberts and You” was the leading religious telecast in the nation.
Oral Roberts University estimated that Mr. Roberts, its founder and first president, had personally laid his hands on more than 1.5 million people during his career, reached more than 500 million people on television and radio, and received millions of letters and appeals. Among those seeking counsel and prayer were Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon and Jimmy Carter. John Lennon wrote a letter to Mr. Roberts in 1972 seeking forgiveness for publicly remarking that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” and asking him to “explain to me what Christianity can do for me.”
Mr. Roberts’s prominence and will to succeed were important factors in building the Pentecostal and charismatic movements and combining them into the fastest-growing Christian movements in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. “No one had done more to bring the Pentecostal message to respectability and visibility in America,” David Edwin Harrell Jr. wrote in “Oral Roberts: An American Life” (Indiana University, 1985).
Granville Oral Roberts was born on Jan. 24, 1918, in the countryside near Ada, in Pontotoc County, Okla. He was the youngest of four children, three of them boys, raised in frontier poverty by Ellis Roberts, a traveling Pentecostal preacher, and his wife, Claudius, who was part Cherokee. When he was 16, Mr. Roberts was found to have a case of tuberculosis so advanced that he was not expected to survive. While he was bedridden, a healing evangelist named George Moncey held worship services in a tent in Ada. On the car ride to Mr. Moncey’s service, Mr. Roberts later recalled, he heard God talking to him.
“It was as if I was totally alone,” Mr. Roberts wrote in his autobiography, “Expect a Miracle” (Thomas Nelson, 1995), one of more than 50 books he wrote. “Then I heard that voice I’ve heard many times since: ‘Son, I am going to heal you, and you are to take my healing power to your generation. You are to build me a university and build it on my authority and the Holy Spirit.’ ”
At the end of the service, Mr. Roberts recalled, Mr. Moncey stepped in front of him, put his hand on the boy’s head and commanded the disease to “come out of this boy.”
Mr. Roberts recovered fully and began a new life of prayer and preaching. He was 18 when he delivered his first sermon. That same year he met Evelyn Lutman Fahnestock, a schoolteacher. They married on Christmas Day, 1938. By then Mr. Roberts was two years into a 12-year career as a pastor in towns around the South and had studied at Oklahoma Baptist College and other religious universities.
In the late 1940s, Mr. Roberts said, he heard God speak to him again, urging him to “be like Jesus and heal people as he did.” He rented an auditorium in Enid, Okla., and held his first healing service. A turnout of 1,000 inspired him to resign his pastorate in Enid and move to Tulsa, where he founded the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and began an itinerant ministry of faith healing.
In 1963 he founded Oral Roberts University. Accredited in 1971, it now has about 3,000 students and is the largest charismatic Christian university in the world.
In 1978 he began building the City of Faith Medical Center, a 2.2 million-square-foot, $250 million assemblage. But its construction was challenged by Tulsa’s existing hospital providers, who questioned the need.
The medical center’s economic problems produced an indelible moment that seemed to distill the concerns about Mr. Roberts’s practices that many of his opponents had long harbored. In early January 1987, on his television show, he made an appeal that tied his life to a $4.5 million fund-raising goal.
“I’m asking you to help extend my life,” he said. “We’re at the point where God could call Oral Roberts home in March.”
The appeal was widely ridiculed by religious leaders and late-night television comedians. Mr. Roberts subsequently announced that he had met his goal, raising a total of $8 million, and that his life had been spared. The medical center closed in 1989.
Mr. Roberts’s personal life was as prone to crisis as his career. Rebecca, his oldest child, and her husband, Marshall Nash, died in a plane crash in 1977. His youngest son, Ronnie Roberts, died of a self-inflicted gunshot in 1982.
Mr. Roberts’s wife of 66 years, Evelyn, died in 2005. He is survived by a daughter, Roberta Potts, and a son, Richard Roberts, who succeeded him as president of Oral Roberts University and resigned in 2007, both of Tulsa; 12 grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren.
Mr. Roberts came out of retirement in 2007 to temporarily assume the largely ceremonial position of co-president of Oral Roberts University, after Richard Roberts took a leave of absence. In 2009, Oral Roberts addressed the Oklahoma State Senate, which had passed a resolution honoring him for his life’s work.
“I’m 91 years of age, and I’ll soon be going home to my heavenly father,” he said. “I look forward to that with great peace and joy, leaving behind my legacy to bless the people.”
BRITTANY MURPHY, ACTRESS
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 20, 2009
Filed at 7:11 p.m. ET
Gregg DeGuire/Associated Press
Brittany Murphy at the premiere for “Across the Hall” in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Dec. 1, 2009. More Photos >
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Brittany Murphy, the actress who got her start in the sleeper hit ”Clueless” and rose to stardom in ”8 Mile,” died Sunday in Los Angeles. She was 32.
Murphy was pronounced dead at 10:04 a.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Sally Stewart said. Stewart would not provide a cause of death or any other information.
Murphy was transported to the hospital after the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a call at 8 a.m. at the home she shared with her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, in the Hollywood Hills.
Los Angeles police have opened an investigation into Murphy’s death, Officer Norma Eisenman said. Detectives and coroner’s officials were at Murphy and Monjack’s home above the Sunset Strip on Sunday afternoon but did not talk to reporters. Paparazzi were camped outside.
Messages left for Murphy’s manager, agent and publicist by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.
Neighbor Clare Staples said she saw firefighters working to resuscitate the actress Sunday morning. She said Murphy was on a stretcher and ”looked as though she was dead at the scene.”
Murphy’s husband, wearing pajama bottoms and no shoes, appeared ”dazed” as firefighters tried to save her, Staples said. ”It’s just tragic,” she added.
TMZ.com first reported Murphy’s death Sunday morning.
Murphy’s father, Angelo Bertolotti, said he learned of her death from his son, the actress’s brother, and was stunned.
”She was just an absolute doll since she was born,” Bertolotti said from his Branford, Fla., home. ”Her personality was always outward. Everybody loved her — people that made movies with her, people on a cruise — they all loved her. She was just a regular gal.”
He said he hadn’t heard much about the circumstances of Murphy’s death. Bertolotti divorced her mother when Murphy was young and hadn’t seen Murphy in the past few years. He said he used to be in the mob and served prison time on federal drug charges.
”She was just talented,” Bertolotti said. ”And I loved her very much.”
Born Nov. 10, 1977, in Atlanta, Murphy grew up in New Jersey and later moved with her mother to Los Angeles to pursue acting.
Her career started in the early 1990s with small roles in television series, commercials and movies. She is best known for parts in ”Girl, Interrupted,” ”Clueless” and ”8 Mile.”
Her on-screen roles declined in recent years, but Murphy’s voice gave life to numerous animated characters, including Luanne Platter on more than 200 episodes of Fox’s ”King of the Hill” and Gloria the penguin in the 2006 feature ”Happy Feet.”
She is due to appear in Sylvester Stallone’s upcoming film, ”The Expendables,” set for release next year.
Her role in ”8 Mile” led to more recognition, Murphy told AP in 2003. ”That changed a lot,” she said. ”That was the difference between people knowing my first and last name as opposed to not.”
Murphy credited her mother, Sharon, with being a key to her success.
”When I asked my mom to move to California, she sold everything and moved out here for me,” Murphy said. ”I was really grateful to have grown up in an environment that was conducive to creating and didn’t stifle any of that. She always believed in me.”
She dated Ashton Kutcher, who costarred with Murphy in 2003’s romantic comedy ”Just Married.”
Kutcher sent a message on Twitter Sunday morning about Murphy’s death: ”2day the world lost a little piece of sunshine,” Kutcher wrote. ”My deepest condolences go out 2 Brittany’s family, her husband, & her amazing mother Sharon.”
AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney and Matt Sedensky in Miami contributed to this report.
JENNIFER JONES, FILM STAR WITH A TURBULENT LIFE
Published: December 17, 2009
, who achieved Hollywood stardom in “The Song of Bernadette”
and other films of the 1940s and ’50s while gaining almost as much attention for a tumultuous personal life, died Thursday at her home in Malibu, Calif. She was 90.
20th Century Fox/Associated Press
In this film publicity image originally released by 20th Century Fox, actress Jennifer Jones is shown as Bernadette in the 1943 movie “Song of Bernadette.”
Ms. Jones, who was the chairwoman of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif., died of natural causes, said Leslie Denk, a museum spokeswoman. Ms. Jones was the widow of the industrialist and art patron Norton Simon.
After winning an Academy Award in 1944 for her performance in “The Song of Bernadette,” Ms. Jones went on to star in successful films like “Duel in the Sun” and “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.” She was nominated for Oscars five times.
She was also known for an off-screen life that included bouts of emotional instability; a second marriage to the Svengali-like David O. Selznick, the producer of “Gone With the Wind”; the suicide of their daughter; and a later marriage to another larger-than-life figure, Mr. Simon.
It was Selznick who got Ms. Jones the role of Bernadette Soubirous, the young French peasant girl whose visions at Lourdes created a sensation in 1858. “The Song of Bernadette,” based on Franz Werfel’s best-selling novel, was a huge hit, and it brought the little-known Ms. Jones instant fame.
“After that first big role, there was a kind of stage fright,” Ms. Jones said in 1981. She told another interviewer: “When you’re young, you’re full of hope and dreams. Later you begin to wonder. I did ‘The Song of Bernadette’ without knowing what was going on half the time.”
When she made “Bernadette,” Ms. Jones was the wife of the young actor Robert Walker and the mother of two small boys. She and her husband had met as students at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York in 1938 and married a year later. They had struggled together until Selznick put Ms. Jones under personal contract in 1941. A year later, Mr. Walker was signed by MGM and had a star-making debut in 1943 as a young sailor in “Bataan.”
But the marriage didn’t last; they separated in the fall of 1943, and by then Ms. Jones was deeply involved with Selznick. Seventeen years her senior, he would be the mastermind of her career.
Selznick’s wife, Irene, the daughter of the movie mogul Louis B. Mayer, left him in 1945, in part over his affair with Ms. Jones, who divorced Mr. Walker that year. David Thomson, in his biography of Selznick, “Showman,” said Selznick had found something special in Ms. Jones. “She was so meek, so young, so lovely, so entirely ready to be David’s creation that she left all the responsibility with him,” Mr. Thomson wrote.
Ms. Jones and Selznick were married in 1949 on a yacht off the coast of Italy. Until his death in 1965, he made virtually all the decisions in his wife’s career. He supervised her dramatic training and produced many of her early movies, including “Since You Went Away” (1944), “Duel in the Sun” (1946), “Portrait of Jennie” (1948) and a lavish version, the second, of Ernest Hemingway’s “Farewell to Arms” (1957). The film, which also starred Rock Hudson, was a critical and box-office failure and the last movie Selznick made.
When Selznick lent his wife out to other producers, he often chose badly — turning down the classic film noir “Laura,” for example, or insisting that she star as the mentally ill Nicole Diver in the film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night” when she was both too old for the role and in precarious mental health herself.
Ms. Jones never set her own course. Though her roles expanded — from the country girl Bernadette to the passionate half-caste young woman lusting after Gregory Peck in “Duel in the Sun” to the wealthy adulteress of Vittorio De Sica’s “Indiscretion of an American Wife” (1954) — the screen image was always as molded by Selznick.
But her acting was admired. She received Oscar nominations as best actress for her performances as an amnesiac cured by Joseph Cotten’s love in “Love Letters” (1945), as the wanton Pearl Chavez in “Duel in the Sun” and as a Eurasian doctor in love with a Korean War correspondent (William Holden) in “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” (1955).
Ms. Jones was born Phylis Lee Isley in Tulsa, Okla., on March 2, 1919, the only child of Philip and Flora Mae Isley. Her parents owned and starred in the Isley Stock Company, a tent-show theatrical troupe that toured the rural Midwest. As a child she spent her summers taking tickets, selling candy and acting in the company.
After a year at Northwestern University, she moved to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she was cast as Elizabeth Barrett opposite Robert Walker’s Robert Browning in “The Barretts of Wimpole Street.” The two soon married, and on their honeymoon in 1939 they went to Hollywood, where they found bit roles.
Retreating to New York, the couple had a son, Robert Jr., in 1940, and another, Michael, less than a year later. Michael died in 2007. Robert survives her, as do eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Ms. Jones met Selznick in New York when she went to his office there to read for the lead in “Claudia,” Rose Franken’s hit stage play, which Selznick was turning into a movie. The title role went to Dorothy McGuire, who had starred in the play, but Selznick was taken by the lithe, dark-haired Ms. Jones and saw a future for her in Hollywood. (He came up with the name Jennifer Jones during that first encounter.)
Ambitious but emotionally fragile, Ms. Jones placed herself in Selznick’s hands. He cast her in a William Saroyan play, “Hello Out There,” in a theater season he was presenting in Santa Barbara, Calif., and she received rave reviews. He was already planning to lend her to his brother-in-law, the producer Bill Goetz, at 20th Century Fox, for “Song of Bernadette.”
After “Bernadette,” Selznick cast her as Claudette Colbert’s daughter in “Since You Went Away,” his bid to make a “Gone With the Wind” about the World War II home front. Ms. Jones was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar as the girl whose first love is a young soldier.
Though Ms. Jones and Mr. Walker were by then estranged, Selznick cast Mr. Walker as the soldier who is strengthened by Ms. Jones’s love. Mr. Walker, who later scored a success as the villain in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train,” died at 32 in 1951 after years of emotional problems and drinking, which he attributed to his loss of Ms. Jones.
Among Ms. Jones’s other movies were the comedy “Cluny Brown” (1946), directed by Ernst Lubitsch; “Carrie” (1952), a film version of Theodore Dreiser’s novel “Sister Carrie” co-starring Laurence Olivier; John Huston’s “Beat the Devil” (1954) co-starring Humphrey Bogart; “Madame Bovary” (1949), co-starring James Mason; and “Ruby Gentry” (1952), a King Vidor film with Charlton Heston about destructive passions reminiscent of “Duel in the Sun.”
After Selznick’s death in 1965, Ms. Jones’s film career petered out in “The Idol” (1966), about a young man sleeping with the mother of his girlfriend; the low- budget “Angel, Angel, Down We Go” (1969); and the ensemble disaster movie “The Towering Inferno” (1974). In 1966 she made a rare stage appearance, in a revival of Clifford Odets’s “Country Girl” at New York City Center.
In 1967, Ms. Jones made headlines when she swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills and was discovered, near death, lying in the surf at Malibu. In 1976, Ms. Jones’s 21- year-old daughter, Mary Jennifer Selznick, jumped to her death from a building in West Los Angeles.
Ms. Jones married Norton Simon, in 1971, in a ceremony on a yacht in the English Channel after a courtship of three weeks. Mr. Simon, a multimillionaire industrialist who had turned a bankrupt orange juice bottling plant into a conglomerate that included Hunt Foods and Canada Dry, had retired in 1969 at 62 to concentrate on collecting art.
He spent more than $100 million on his collection, one of the country’s greatest private art collections, housed at the Norton Simon Museum.
After being stricken by the paralyzing neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome, Mr. Simon resigned as president of the museum and was succeeded by Ms. Jones, who also took the title of chairwoman. She oversaw a gallery renovation by the architect Frank Gehry. Mr. Simon died in 1993 at age 86.
Throughout her life Ms. Jones appeared shy and aloof in public, and she rarely gave interviews. She explained why in one of the few she did give, in 1957.
“Most interviewers probe and pry into your personal life, and I just don’t like it,” she said. “I respect everyone’s right to privacy, and I feel mine should be respected, too.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: December 19, 2009
An obituary on Friday about the actress Jennifer Jones misstated the surname of the director of “Cluny Brown,” one of the films in which she starred. He was Ernst Lubitsch, not Lubisch.
Rest in peace, Ms. Jones.
Rest in peace.
DAN O’BANNON, ‘ALIEN’ SCREENWRITER
Published: December 20, 2009
Dan O’Bannon, whose screenplays for “Alien,” “Total Recall,”
“The Return of the Living Dead” and other films made him a cult hero among science fiction aficionados, died on Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 63.
The Writers Guild of America
confirmed his death. The cause was Crohn’s disease, a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that Mr. O’Bannon endured for 30 years, his wife, Diane, told The Los Angeles Times.
After working as a computer animator for the director George Lucas
on “Star Wars”
and trying, unsuccessfully, to develop a film based on the Frank Herbert novel “Dune,”
Mr. O’Bannon created the story of “Alien” with the screenwriter Ronald Shusett and wrote the screenplay on his own.
The film, directed by Ridley Scott
and starring Sigourney Weaver
, is about a spaceship with a vicious monster loose onboard. (The creature begins as a parasite that explodes from a crew member’s chest.) It became a box office hit, a classic of science fiction and horror, and the progenitor of a lucrative Hollywood franchise, with its several sequels.
“I love gore films and I grew up with ’50s monster movies,” Mr. O’Bannon told the journal Cinefantastique in 1979, speaking of the film’s origins. “The idea for the monster in ‘Alien’ originally came from a stomach ache I had.”
In 1985 Mr. O’Bannon wrote and directed “The Return of the Living Dead,” part homage to the George Romero
zombie film “Night of the Living dead” and part genre spoof. In 1990 he teamed with Mr. Shusett again, among others, to write “Total Recall,” a violent, futuristic tale set partly on Earth and partly on Mars and based on a short story by Philip K. Dick
. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger
and Sharon Stone
Daniel Thomas O’Bannon was born in St. Louis on Sept. 30, 1946. He attended Washington University
in St. Louis and MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill., before earning an M.F.A. from U.S.C.
He also directed “The Resurrected”
(1992), based on a story by H. P. Lovecraft, whom Mr. O’Bannon called “the greatest horror writer who ever lived.”
Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, Adam.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: December 28, 2009
An obituary last Monday about the screenwriter Dan O’Bannon misidentified site of MacMurray College, which he attended. It is in Jacksonville , Ill., not Abilene , Tex. (Abilene is home to McMurry College.)
|Dan O’Bannon, shown in 1985, wrote the script for the 1979 film “Alien” and also wrote and directed other sci-fi and horror films. (Los Angeles Times / August 8, 1985)
It was Dan O’Bannon (and Ronald Shusett) who thought up the whole scary thing. The crew of the Nostromo. The derelict spacecraft. The dead planetoid.
From the novel written by Mr. O’Bannon and adapted by him in a screenplay for the silver screen, the pathos of Alien was like no other science fiction movie. With a lead female protagonist (Sigourney Weaver), with unusual sound and cinematography effects, and a musical score more in keeping with classical music ( excerpts from ‘Symphony No. 2 (“Romantic”), Alien was a groundbreaking success. It even spawned three sequels. This year marks the 30TH Aniversary of Alien.
Rest in peace, Mr. O’Bannon.
Rest in peace.