IN REMEMBRANCE: 2-21-2010

LUCILLE CLIFTON, POET WHO EXPLORED BLACK LIVES

Published: February 17, 2010
Lucille Clifton, a distinguished American poet whose work trained lenses wide and narrow on the experience of being black and female in the 20th century, exploring vast subjects like the indignities of history and intimate ones like the indignities of the body, died on Saturday in Baltimore. She was 73 and lived in Columbia, Md.
February 17, 2010    
Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Lucille Clifton accepting a National Book Award in 2000.

The precise cause of death had not been determined, her sister, Elaine Philip, told The Associated Press on Sunday. Ms. Clifton, who had cancer, had been hospitalized recently with an infection.

Ms. Clifton received a National Book Award in 2000 for “Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000,” published by BOA Editions. In 2007, she became the first African-American woman to win the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a $100,000 award that is one of American poetry’s signal honors.

Her book “Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980” (BOA, 1987) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1988.

Besides producing a dozen volumes of poetry, Ms. Clifton wrote many well-received books of prose and verse for children that centered on the African-American experience.

Widely anthologized, Ms. Clifton’s poetry combined an intense, sometimes earthy voice with a streamlined economy of language. (She frequently did away with punctuation and capitalization as so much unwanted baggage.) Her subject matter spanned large ethical questions like slavery and its legacy and more daily concerns like family and community.

Her poems were frequently autobiographical. She could write unflinchingly of personal hardship, including being sexually abused by her father when she was a girl and her struggles with cancer and kidney failure as an adult. Yet, as critics remarked, she was steadfast in her refusal to cast herself as a victim.

Ms. Clifton’s style, which often recapitulated the rhythms of black oral tradition, was known for its moral intensity leavened by humor. In her poem “wishes for sons” — she had two sons and four daughters — she writes:

i wish them cramps.

i wish them a strange town

and the last tampon.

i wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early

and wearing a white skirt.

i wish them one week late.

Thelma Lucille Sayles was born on June 27, 1936, in Depew, N.Y., and reared in nearby Buffalo. Her father, Samuel, was a steelworker; her mother, Thelma, worked in a laundry. Her mother, who had not been educated past grade school, was an accomplished poet, writing in private until the day she was offered the chance to collect her work in a book. Samuel forbade her to do so. In “fury,” Ms. Clifton recorded her mother’s response:

she is standing by

the furnace.

the coals

glisten like rubies.

her hand is crying.

her hand is clutching

a sheaf of papers.

poems.

she gives them up.

they burn

jewels into jewels. …

she will never recover.

Ms. Clifton attended Howard University but left before graduating to pursue poetry. Returning to Buffalo, she became part of a group of black artists and intellectuals there. In 1958 she married Fred Clifton, who taught philosophy and African-American studies at the University at Buffalo, eventually settling with him in Maryland.

Some of Ms. Clifton’s early work was published in “The Poetry of the Negro, 1746-1970” (Doubleday, 1970), edited by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps.

The poet laureate of Maryland from 1979 to 1985, Ms. Clifton was a writer in residence at Coppin State College, now Coppin State University, a historically black college in Baltimore. She later taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and, most recently, at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Ms. Clifton’s husband died in 1984; a son, Channing, and a daughter, Frederica, also died before her. Besides her sister, Ms. Philip, survivors include a son, Graham; three daughters, Sidney, Gillian and Alexia; and three grandchildren.

Her other volumes of poetry include “Good Times” (Random House, 1969); “Two-Headed Woman” (University of Massachusetts, 1980); “Quilting: Poems, 1987-1990” (BOA, 1991); and “The Book of Light” (Copper Canyon, 1993).

Ms. Clifton was the subject of several biographical and critical studies, among them “Lucille Clifton: Her Life and Letters” (Praeger, 2006), by Mary Jane Lupton, and “Wild Blessings: The Poetry of Lucille Clifton” (Louisiana State University, 2004), by Hilary Holladay.

Throughout Ms. Clifton’s work, the historical and the personal often converged in a single poem, as in “homage to my hips,” here in its entirety:

these hips are big hips

they need space to

move around in.

they don’t fit into little

petty places. these hips

are free hips.

they don’t like to be held back.

these hips have never been enslaved,

they go where they want to go

they do what they want to do.

these hips are mighty hips.

these hips are magic hips.

i have known them

to put a spell on a man and

spin him like a top!

SOURCE

RELATED ARTICLE:

 

LUCILLE CLIFTON, HONORED POET FROM BUFFALO

Lucille Clifton won the National Book Award in 2001 for “Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000.”

 

Clifton, honored poet from Buffalo, dies

By Jay Rey

NEWS STAFF REPORTER

Updated: February 14, 2010, 12:14 pm
Published: February 15, 2010, 1:34 am

Lucille Clifton, born and raised in the Buffalo area before going on to achieve some of the literary world’s highest honors as a major American poet, died Saturday morning at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore at age 73, her sister told The Buffalo News. 

Clifton had been ill for some time with some type of infection, and had undergone surgery to remove her colon Friday, but her exact cause of death is still uncertain, Clifton’s sister, Elaine Philip said today. 

“We really don’t know,” Philip said, “she had an infection throughout her body, and we don’t know yet where it was coming from.” 

Clifton, who lived in Columbia, Md., and was the former poet laureate of the state, was a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. 

She won the National Book Award in 2001 for “Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000,” and in 2007, she became the first African-American woman to be awarded one of the literary world’s highest honors — the Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement by the Poetry Foundation. 

“She is, in my opinion, the greatest poet to have been born and raised in Buffalo in the 20th Century,” said R.D. Pohl, longtime literary contributor to The Buffalo News. 

“I think so, too,” Philip said, “not just because she was my sister. She was so sensitive. Everything touched her. Everyone mattered to her. She was such a loving person.” 

The former Lucille Sayles was born into a working-class family in Depew on June 27, 1936. 

She moved to Buffalo with her family at an early age, and was raised on Purdy Street. She graduated from Fosdick-Masten High School and was awarded a scholarship to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., before she transferred to Fredonia State College, where she graduated. 

Clifton left Buffalo in the late 1960s, after she met and married Fred Clifton, a philosophy professor at the University at Buffalo. 

The couple moved to Baltimore and had six children. Clifton moved to California for a short time, after her husband died in 1984, but returned to Maryland several years later and has been there ever since. 

In 2004, she returned to Buffalo to receive an Outstanding Individual Artist award from the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. 

At that time, Clifton had published 11 poetry collections, autobiographical prose and 20 children’s books. Her poems have appeared in more than 100 anthologies. In 1987, she became the only author to have had two books nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in the same year and was a finalist for the prestigious award. 

Besides her sister, Clifton is survived by three daughters, Sidney, Gillian and Alexia; and a son, Graham. 

Funeral arrangements are incomplete. 

jrey@buffnews.com 

SOURCE

 

RELATED LINKS:

 

1.

 

2.
Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980 (American Poets Continuum) by Lucille Clifton (Paperback – Nov. 1, 1987)
4.8 out of 5 stars   (4)

 

3.
Voices (American Poets Continuum) by Lucille Clifton (Paperback – Nov. 1, 2008)
//
4.
The Book of Light by Lucille Clifton (Hardcover – Feb. 1993)
5.0 out of 5 stars   (3)
5.
The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring (Picture Puffins) by Lucille Clifton and Brinton Turkle (Paperback – Aug. 15, 1992
4.5 out of 5 stars   (2)
6.
Everett Anderson’s Goodbye (Reading Rainbow) by Lucille Clifton and Ann Grifalconi (Paperback – July 15, 1988)
4.4 out of 5 stars   (5)
7.
Mercy (American Poets Continuum) by Lucille Clifton (Paperback – Sept. 1, 2004)
4.7 out of 5 stars   (3)
9.
Quilting: Poems 1987-1990 (American Poets Continuum Series, Vol. 21) by Lucille Clifton (Paperback – Sept. 1, 2000)
10.
The Lucky Stone (Yearling Book) by Lucille Clifton (Paperback – May 1, 1986)
5.0 out of 5 stars   (1)
11.
Three Wishes by Lucille Clifton (Mass Market Paperback – Jan. 1, 1994)
12.
14.
Next: New Poems (American Poets Continuum) by Lucille Clifton (Paperback – Dec. 1, 1989)
5.0 out of 5 stars   (2)

 

Rest in peace, Lucille.

Rest in peace.

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ALEXANDER M. HAIG, FORCEFUL AIDE TO 2 PRESIDENTS

Published: February 20, 2010
Alexander M. Haig Jr., the four-star general who served as a confrontational secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan and a commanding White House chief of staff as the Nixon administration crumbled, died Saturday at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, according to a hospital spokesman. He was 85.
February 21, 2010    

D. Gorton/The New York Times

Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. on March 30, 1981, the day of an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. More Photos »

Mr. Haig was a rare American breed: a political general. His bids for the presidency quickly came undone. But his ambition to be president was thinly veiled, and that was his undoing. He knew, Reagan’s aide Lyn Nofziger once said, that “the third paragraph of his obit” would detail his conduct in the hours after President Reagan was shot, on March 30, 1981.

That day, Secretary of State Haig wrongly declared himself the acting president. “The helm is right here,” he told members of the Reagan cabinet in the White House Situation Room, “and that means right in this chair for now, constitutionally, until the vice president gets here.” His words were taped by Richard V. Allen, then the national security adviser.

His colleagues knew better. “There were three others ahead of Mr. Haig in the constitutional succession,” Mr. Allen wrote in 2001. “But Mr. Haig’s demeanor signaled that he might be ready for a quarrel, and there was no point in provoking one.”

Mr. Haig then asked, “How do you get to the press room?” He raced upstairs and went directly to the lectern before a television audience of millions. His knuckles whitening, his arms shaking, Mr. Haig declared to the world, “I am in control here, in the White House.” He did not give that appearance.

Seven years before, Mr. Haig really had been in control. He was widely perceived as the acting president during the final months of the Nixon administration.

He kept the White House running as the distraught and despondent commander in chief was driven from power by the threat of impeachment in 1974. “He was the president toward the end,” William B. Saxbe, the United States attorney general in 1974, was quoted as saying in “Nixon: An Oral History of His Presidency” (HarperCollins, 1994). “He held that office together.”

Henry A. Kissinger, his mentor and master in the Nixon White House, also said the nation owed Mr. Haig its gratitude for steering the ship of state through dangerous waters in the final days of the Nixon era. “By sheer willpower, dedication and self-discipline, he held the government together,” Mr. Kissinger wrote in the memoir “Years of Upheaval.”

Mr. Haig took pride in his cool handling of a constitutional crisis without precedent.

“There were no tanks,” he said during a hearing on his nomination as secretary of state in 1981. “There were not any sandbags outside the White House.”

Serving the Nixon White House from 1969 to 1974, Mr. Haig went from colonel to four-star general without holding a major battlefield command, an extraordinary rise with few if any precedents in American military history.

But the White House was its own battlefield in those years. He won his stars through his tireless service to President Richard M. Nixon and Mr. Nixon’s national security adviser, Mr. Kissinger.

Mr. Haig never lost his will. But he frequently lost his composure as Mr. Reagan’s secretary of state. As a consequence, he lost both his job and his standing in the American government.

Mr. Nixon had privately suggested to the Reagan transition team that Mr. Haig would make a great secretary of state. Upon his appointment, Mr. Haig declared himself “the vicar of foreign policy” — in the Roman Catholic Church, to which he belonged, the pope is the “vicar of Christ” — but he soon became an apostate in the new administration.

He alienated his affable commander in chief and the vice president, George H. W. Bush, whose national security aide, Donald P. Gregg, described Mr. Haig as “a cobra among garter snakes.”

Mr. Haig served for 17 months before Mr. Reagan dismissed him with a one-page letter on June 24, 1982.

Those months were marked by a largely covert paramilitary campaign against Central American leftists, a heightening of nuclear tensions with the Soviet Union, and dismay among American allies about the lurching course of American foreign policy.

In the immediate aftermath of his departure came the deaths of 241 American Marines in a terrorist bombing in Beirut and, two days later, the American invasion of the Caribbean nation of Grenada.

“His tenure as secretary of state was very traumatic,” John M. Poindexter, later Mr. Reagan’s national security adviser, recalled in the oral history “Reagan: The Man and His Presidency” (Houghton Mifflin, 1998). “As a result of this constant tension that existed between the White House and the State Department about who was going to be responsible for national security and foreign policy, we got very little done.”

Mr. Haig was a rare American breed: a political general. His bids for the presidency quickly came undone. But his ambition to be president was thinly veiled, and that was his undoing. He knew, Reagan’s aide Lyn Nofziger once said, that “the third paragraph of his obit” would detail his conduct in the hours after President Reagan was shot, on March 30, 1981.

That day, Secretary of State Haig wrongly declared himself the acting president. “The helm is right here,” he told members of the Reagan cabinet in the White House Situation Room, “and that means right in this chair for now, constitutionally, until the vice president gets here.” His words were taped by Richard V. Allen, then the national security adviser.

His colleagues knew better. “There were three others ahead of Mr. Haig in the constitutional succession,” Mr. Allen wrote in 2001. “But Mr. Haig’s demeanor signaled that he might be ready for a quarrel, and there was no point in provoking one.”

Mr. Haig then asked, “How do you get to the press room?” He raced upstairs and went directly to the lectern before a television audience of millions. His knuckles whitening, his arms shaking, Mr. Haig declared to the world, “I am in control here, in the White House.” He did not give that appearance.

Seven years before, Mr. Haig really had been in control. He was widely perceived as the acting president during the final months of the Nixon administration.

He kept the White House running as the distraught and despondent commander in chief was driven from power by the threat of impeachment in 1974. “He was the president toward the end,” William B. Saxbe, the United States attorney general in 1974, was quoted as saying in “Nixon: An Oral History of His Presidency” (HarperCollins, 1994). “He held that office together.”

Henry A. Kissinger, his mentor and master in the Nixon White House, also said the nation owed Mr. Haig its gratitude for steering the ship of state through dangerous waters in the final days of the Nixon era. “By sheer willpower, dedication and self-discipline, he held the government together,” Mr. Kissinger wrote in the memoir “Years of Upheaval.”

Mr. Haig took pride in his cool handling of a constitutional crisis without precedent.

“There were no tanks,” he said during a hearing on his nomination as secretary of state in 1981. “There were not any sandbags outside the White House.”

Serving the Nixon White House from 1969 to 1974, Mr. Haig went from colonel to four-star general without holding a major battlefield command, an extraordinary rise with few if any precedents in American military history.

But the White House was its own battlefield in those years. He won his stars through his tireless service to President Richard M. Nixon and Mr. Nixon’s national security adviser, Mr. Kissinger.

Mr. Haig never lost his will. But he frequently lost his composure as Mr. Reagan’s secretary of state. As a consequence, he lost both his job and his standing in the American government.

Mr. Nixon had privately suggested to the Reagan transition team that Mr. Haig would make a great secretary of state. Upon his appointment, Mr. Haig declared himself “the vicar of foreign policy” — in the Roman Catholic Church, to which he belonged, the pope is the “vicar of Christ” — but he soon became an apostate in the new administration.

He alienated his affable commander in chief and the vice president, George H. W. Bush, whose national security aide, Donald P. Gregg, described Mr. Haig as “a cobra among garter snakes.”

Mr. Haig served for 17 months before Mr. Reagan dismissed him with a one-page letter on June 24, 1982.

Those months were marked by a largely covert paramilitary campaign against Central American leftists, a heightening of nuclear tensions with the Soviet Union, and dismay among American allies about the lurching course of American foreign policy.

In the immediate aftermath of his departure came the deaths of 241 American Marines in a terrorist bombing in Beirut and, two days later, the American invasion of the Caribbean nation of Grenada.

“His tenure as secretary of state was very traumatic,” John M. Poindexter, later Mr. Reagan’s national security adviser, recalled in the oral history “Reagan: The Man and His Presidency” (Houghton Mifflin, 1998). “As a result of this constant tension that existed between the White House and the State Department about who was going to be responsible for national security and foreign policy, we got very little done.”

What began with the arrest of several men breaking into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington in June 1972 had poisoned the presidency. Days after the break-in, the president and his closest aides had discussed how to cover up their role and how to obtain hush money for the burglars. The discussions, secretly taped by the president, were evidence of obstruction of justice.

General Haig was one of the first people, if not the very first person, to read transcripts of the tapes the president had withheld from the special prosecutor. “When I finished reading it,” he says in “Nixon: An Oral History,” “I knew that Nixon would never survive — no way.”

On Aug. 1, 1974, the general went to Vice President Gerald R. Ford and discussed the possibility of a pardon for the president. Mr. Nixon left office a week later; the pardon came the next month. Public outrage was deep. Mr. Haig soon departed.

After leaving the White House in October 1974, he became supreme allied commander in Europe, the overseer of NATO. In 1979, he resigned and retired from the Army. He served for a year as president of United Technologies.

A “Haig for President” committee was formed but dissolved in 1980. Mr. Haig made a full-fledged run for the Republican nomination in 1988. But he placed last among the six Republican candidates in Iowa, where he barely campaigned, and he withdrew before the New Hampshire primary. He had been, he said, “the darkest of the dark horses.”

In his 80s, Mr. Haig ran Worldwide Associates, a firm offering “strategic advice” on global commerce. He also appeared on Fox News as a military and political analyst.

His Way With Words

He had a unique way with words. In a 1981 “On Language” column, William Safire of The New York Times, a veteran of the Nixon White House, called it “haigravation.”

Nouns became verbs or adverbs: “I’ll have to caveat my response, Senator.” (Caveat is Latin for “let him beware.” In English, it means “warning.” In Mr. Haig’s lexicon, it meant to say something with a warning that it might or might not be so.)

Haigspeak could be subtle: “There are nuance-al differences between Henry Kissinger and me on that.” It could be dramatic: “Some sinister force” had erased one of Mr. Nixon’s subpoenaed Watergate tapes, creating an 18 1/2- minute gap. Sometimes it was an emblem of the never-ending battle between politics and the English language: “careful caution,” “epistemologically-wise,” “saddle myself with a statistical fence.”

But he could also speak with clarity and conviction about the presidents he served, and about his own role in government. Mr. Nixon would always be remembered for Watergate, he said, “because the event had such major historic consequences for the country: a fundamental discrediting of respect for the office; a new skepticism about politics in general, which every American feels.”

Mr. Reagan, he said, would be remembered for having had “the good fortune of having been president when the Evil Empire began to unravel.” But, he went on, “to consider that standing tall in Grenada, or building Star Wars, brought the Russians to their knees is a distortion of historic reality. The internal contradictions of Marxism brought it to its knees.”

He was brutally candid about his own run for office and his subsequent distaste for political life. “Not being a politician, I think I can say this: The life of a politician in America is sleaze,” he told the authors of “Nixon: An Oral History.”

“I didn’t realize it until I started to run for office,” he said. “But there is hardly a straight guy in the business. As Nixon always said to me — and he took great pride in it — ‘Al, I never took a dollar. I had somebody else do it.’ ”

Liz Robbins and Sarah Wheaton contributed reporting.

SOURCE

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LIONEL JEFFRIES, BRITISH CHARACTER ACTOR

Published: February 20, 2010
Lionel Jeffries, a mustachioed, bald-pated British character actor who excelled in rubber-faced comedic roles like Grandpa Potts in the musical fantasy adventure “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” and who directed “The Railway Children” and several other family-oriented films, died Friday. He was 83.
February 20, 2010    
Embassy Pictures, via Movie Star News

Lionel Jeffries, left, and Eric Skyes in “The Spy With a Cold Nose” (1966). Mr. Jeffries was also in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

His agency, the Liz Hobbs Group, confirmed the death to The Associated Press without attributing a cause. The BBC said Mr. Jeffries died in a nursing home in Poole, in southern England.

Mr. Jeffries trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and appeared in a number of stage roles, including Colonel Pickering in a 1987 Broadway production of “Pygmalion” that starred Peter O’Toole as Henry Higgins. But he is best known for his film work.

His specialties were ineptitude and exasperation; he played sputtering bumblers, impatient authority figures, Clouseau-like cops. He was an apoplectic ship’s captain in the Agatha Christie mystery “Murder Ahoy” (1964); he was a doofus of a secret agent in “The Spy With a Cold Nose” (1966); he was a bungling Scotland Yard inspector in “The Wrong Arm of the Law” (1963), with Peter Sellers; he was the amiably feckless King Pellinore in “Camelot” (1967). And though it was not a comic film, he used his facial flexibility and gift for hyperbolic expression as an especially seething and vengeful Marquis of Queensberry in “The Trials of Oscar Wilde” (1960).

Most indelibly, he played the loopy Grandpa Potts in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (1968), the father of the eccentric inventor of the magical titular automobile, played by Dick Van Dyke, who was actually older than Mr. Jeffries. His signature moment is the singing of the traveling song “Posh!” while standing in an outhouse-size cabin that is being hauled over the ocean by a hot-air balloon.

Mr. Jeffries was known to abhor the turn in movies toward sexually permissive material after the 1950s, and the five films he directed were all family oriented. They included “The Amazing Mr. Blunden,” (1972), a ghost story involving time-traveling children; “Baxter!” (1973), about the breakdown of a teenage boy with a speech defect; “Wombling Free” (1977), a film version of an environmentally conscious children’s television show; and a partly animated fantasy, “The Water Babies” (1978).

His best-known and best-loved film, however, was his first, “The Railway Children” (1970), which he also wrote. An irresistibly heartwarming adaptation of the Edwardian children’s book by E. Nesbit, about a Yorkshire family living near a rail station in the early 20th century, it was ranked No. 66 by the British Film Institute on its list of the best British films of the 20th century.

Lionel Charles Jeffries was born in London on June 10, 1926. Before studying acting, he served in the military during World War II in Burma (now Myanmar), where the humidity, he said, was responsible for the loss of his hair. He was, he liked to say, the only bald student at the Royal Academy.

Mr. Jeffries’s survivors include his wife of 48 years, Eileen, and three children.

SOURCE

Lionel was one of my favourite character actors, having first seen him in the science fiction classic, “First Men in the Moon.”

Rest in peace, Lionel.

Rest in peace.

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KATHRYN GRAYSON, OPERATIC FILM STAR

Published: February 18, 2010
Kathryn Grayson, the petite singer and actress whose operatic voice and campus-sweetheart beauty embodied the glamour of Hollywood movie musicals in the 1940s and ’50s, died Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 88.
February 19, 2010    

MGM, via Photofest

Kathryn Grayson in “Kiss Me Kate.”

February 19, 2010    

MGM

Ms. Grayson flanked by Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in “Anchors Aweigh.”

Her death was confirmed by her secretary of 31 years, Sally Sherman.

Ms. Grayson, a coloratura soprano, was best known for three film roles: the movie hopeful who attracts the attentions of two sailors (Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra) on shore leave in Hollywood in “Anchors Aweigh” (1945); Magnolia Hawks, the captain’s innocent daughter, who falls for the handsome gambler Gaylord Ravenal (Howard Keel), in the Technicolor remake of “Show Boat” (1951); and the sophisticated, comically shrewish actress starring in a Shakespearean musical with her ex-husband (Mr. Keel again) in “Kiss Me Kate” (1953), Hollywood’s adaptation of the Broadway hit.

Her screen duets with Mr. Keel included “Make Believe” and “You Are Love” from “Show Boat,” “So in Love” from “Kiss Me Kate” and “Lovely to Look At” from the film of the same name. Along with Sinatra, she also introduced movie audiences to “Time After Time.”

After her movie career, during which she often played opera stars, she went on to perform in actual operas, primarily in summer theaters. She also toured the country in the 1980s and ’90s with a one-woman stage show; in the late ’90s, she toured with an old movie co-star, Van Johnson.

In 1996, looking back at her experiences in Hollywood, Ms. Grayson shared her thoughts about the death of American movie musicals with The New York Times. “The audience did not change,” she said. “The studios changed. They wanted to make cheap movies and grab the money and run.”

Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick was born on Feb. 9, 1922, in Winston-Salem, N.C., the third child of Charles and Lillian Hedrick. The family moved to Kirkwood, Mo., near St. Louis, where she studied voice and aspired to an opera career. Her parents moved to California, and when she was 15 she was signed by Red Seal, the classical arm of RCA Victor Records. Seen and heard by MGM executives, she was persuaded to abandon her opera ambitions and do her singing in the movies instead.

She made her film debut in the title role in “Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary” (1941), opposite Mickey Rooney. This, the seventh full-length feature in the series about wholesome prewar teenagers, gave the 19-year-old Ms. Grayson the opportunity to sing Johann Strauss’s “Voices of Spring” and the mad-scene aria from Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” onscreen.

Over the next 15 years she made 20 films, including “That Midnight Kiss” (1949) and “The Toast of New Orleans” (1950), both with the tenor Mario Lanza; “So This Is Love” (1953), a biography of the opera star Grace Moore; “It Happened in Brooklyn” (1947), a romantic musical in which Sinatra starred as a soldier home from the war; and her disappointing swan song, “The Vagabond King” (1956), a costume musical set in 15th-century France.

She never made it to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, but she did appear on Broadway, replacing Julie Andrews as Guenevere in “Camelot” in 1962. The following year she began a national tour of the show but dropped out because of what was described as nervous exhaustion.

Ms. Grayson also acted in a handful of television series, beginning in the 1950s. She was nominated for a 1956 Emmy Award for her dramatic role in an episode of “General Electric Theater.” Her final screen appearance was in 1989 on the CBS detective series “Murder, She Wrote,” one of three she made on that show as a small-town gossip.

In 1941, when Ms. Grayson was 19, she eloped with John Shelton, an actor and singer, whom she divorced in 1946. She and the radio singer Johnnie Johnston were married from 1947 to 1951 and had a daughter, Patricia Towers, who survives her, along with two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Ms. Grayson never seemed to consider her film career life-defining, perhaps because it was something of an accident. “After seeing my screen test, I wanted desperately to get out of my contract,” she told Hedda Hopper in a 1951 interview for The Los Angeles Times. However, she added, she had grown to enjoy movie acting: “If you don’t get fun out of a particular type of work, why do it?”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 20, 2010
An obituary on Friday about the actress and singer Kathryn Grayson referred incorrectly to the opera singer Grace Moore, whom Ms. Grayson portrayed in the 1953 film “So This Is Love.” Ms. Moore was not paralyzed. The obituary also erroneously attributed a distinction to Ms. Grayson’s on-screen performance of the song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Irene Dunne sang it in the 1935 film “Roberta,” 17 years before Ms. Grayson sang it in “Lovely to Look At”; Ms. Grayson did not “introduce movie audiences” to the song.

SOURCE

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PHILLIP MARTIN, WHO LED HIS TRIBE TO WEALTH

Published: February 15, 2010
Phillip Martin, a former chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, who guided his tribe from grinding poverty in the red clay hills of east central Mississippi to become proprietor of one of the state’s leading business empires, died Feb. 4 in Jackson, Miss. He was 83 and lived in Philadelphia, Miss.
February 15, 2010    

Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star

Phillip Martin, right, at the Golden Moon casino in 2002.

The cause was a stroke, his niece Natasha Phillips said.

When Chief Martin was first elected in 1979, the Choctaws in Mississippi were still relegated to the hardscrabble existence that had repressed them for generations. In 1831, a year after passage of the federal Indian Removal Act, most of the Choctaws were forced to walk what became known as the Trail of Tears to resettlement in the Oklahoma Territories. Over the decades, those Choctaws who remained in Mississippi eked out livings through sharecropping and unskilled labor. Into the early 1970s unemployment on the reservation stood at nearly 75 percent.

Chief Martin changed all that, and the turnaround was all the more remarkable because it was well under way before the rise of tribal casinos after passage of the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.

“He was truly one of the first and most important leaders in the drive for tribal self-determination,” Joseph Kalt, co-director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, said in an interview. “Chief Martin led this movement in which first the Mississippi Choctaw and then many other Indian nations have said: ‘We’re just going to run everything ourselves. We’re building our own schools, our own police department, our own health program, our own economy.’ ”

Chief Martin, who was tribal leader until 2007, first lobbied successfully for government grants to develop an 80-acre industrial park on the reservation. In 1981 he persuaded officials in Philadelphia, Miss., to issue bonds to attract the American Greetings card company to the industrial park. He brought a satellite-imaging laboratory to the park. Under his leadership the tribe started Chahta Enterprise, a company that produces wiring for automakers and other electronic systems, and a construction company.

The tribe opened the Silver Star Hotel and Casino in 1994 and a second casino, the Golden Moon, in 2002. Today they form the heart of Pearl River Resort, which includes a theme park and a golf club and is the largest and most profitable Choctaw enterprise. In recent years, according to the Harvard project, the businesses have been generating about $180 million a year in wages alone. More than 7,000 people are employed, and the unemployment rate on the reservation has plunged to about 4 percent. (The national unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in January.)

“Every Choctaw who could and wanted to work has had a job,” Professor Kalt said, “and thousands of non-Indians are working for the tribal government and the tribal businesses.” Between 1985 and 2000, the professor added, “life expectancy in the tribe rose 20 years.”

The transformation could also be seen in neighborhoods near the casinos, where government-issue cinderblock houses have given way to suburban homes. The chief also established a scholarship fund that pays full tuition for all students from the tribe who are accepted to college.

Born on March 13, 1926, Phillip Martin was the third of six children of Willie and Mary Martin. His father was a janitor for the local office of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

With his father’s government paycheck, surviving the Depression was not as difficult for the family as it was for most other Choctaws — until a hit-and-run driver killed Willie Martin. Struggling on a welfare check, Phillip’s mother sent Phillip to a Cherokee boarding school in North Carolina when he was 13. He enlisted in the Army at 19, joined the Air Force after the war and was a staff sergeant and a radar technician when discharged in 1955.

After training as an electrician under the G.I. Bill, Mr. Martin returned to the reservation, where he met and married Bonnie Bell, a Choctaw. She survives him, as do two daughters, Deborah Lewis and Patricia Gibson; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

“We decided if we were going to live here we should try to do something for ourselves,” Chief Martin said at a conference sponsored by the federal Administration for Native Americans in 1986. “Our success has changed the attitudes not only of the Choctaw but of our neighbors.”

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1 Comment

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One response to “IN REMEMBRANCE: 2-21-2010

  1. Keep telling that history:

    Read the novel, Rescue at Pine Ridge, “RaPR”, a great story of black military history…the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers.

    How do you keep a people down? ‘Never’ let them ‘know’ their history.

    The 7th Cavalry got their butts in a sling again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn’t for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry.

    Read the novel, “Rescue at Pine Ridge”, 5 stars Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the youtube trailer commercial…and visit the website http://www.rescueatpineridge.com

    I hope you’ll enjoy the novel. I wrote it from my mini-series movie of the same title, “RaPR” to keep my story alive. Hollywood has had a lot of strikes and doesn’t like telling our stories…its been “his-story” of history all along…until now. The movie so far has attached, Bill Duke directing, Hill Harper, Glynn Turman and a host of other major actors in which we are in talks with…see imdb.com at; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0925633/

    When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; http://www.alphawolfprods.com and see our other productions, like Stagecoach Mary, the first Black Woman to deliver mail for Wells Fargo in Montana, in the 1890’s, “spread the word”.

    Peace.

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