LOUIS POLLAK, JUDGE AND CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATE
Published: May 12, 2012
Louis H. Pollak, a federal judge and former dean of two prestigious law schools who played a significant role in major civil rights cases before the Supreme Court, including the landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case, died on Tuesday at his home in Philadelphia. He was 89.
Dan Loh/Associated Press
Judge Louis H. Pollak
The cause was congestive heart failure, his wife, Katherine, said.
For 28 years, before President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Judge Pollak had volunteered his services to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He did so even during his tenures as dean of the Yale and University of Pennsylvania law schools.
Recruited in 1950 by the defense fund’s director, Thurgood Marshall, who later became an associate justice of the Supreme Court, Mr. Pollak was a member of the legal team that spent several years preparing the plaintiff’s briefs for Brown v. Board of Education.
The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in that case, handed down in May 1954, stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal” and a violation of the 14th Amendment. The decision, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 ruling that permitted state-sponsored segregation, is considered a cornerstone of the modern civil rights movement.
It was one of many cases in which Mr. Pollak had a role, including several in which he argued before the Supreme Court.
“Lou Pollak wrote briefs, made arguments, gave advice hundreds and hundreds of times on issues of the highest level of constitutional sophistication,” Jack Greenberg, who succeeded Justice Marshall as director of the defense fund, wrote in his 1994 book, “Crusaders in the Courts.”
It was Mr. Pollak who argued, in the Supreme Court’s 1965 case Abernathy v. Alabama, that the convictions of Freedom Riders for their campaign to desegregate buses and bus stations in the South could not stand. Citing a prior case upholding the right of the Interstate Commerce Commission to mandate integrated public travel facilities, the Supreme Court, without writing a new opinion, reversed the convictions.
Mr. Greenberg wrote that Mr. Pollak had “masterfully argued the case, in conversational tones and with humor.”
A year earlier, with William T. Coleman, who later served as transportation secretary in the Ford administration, Mr. Pollak argued for the plaintiffs in McLaughlin v. Florida, a case in which the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Florida law banning cohabitation between people of different races. “The time has come to remove this stigma from the fabric of American law,” Mr. Pollak said at the time.
“That important victory,” said Debo Adegbile, who now leads the defense fund, “paved the way for the precedent-setting Loving v. Virginia victory in 1967, which declared that all anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional.”
Civil rights was a family calling for Judge Pollak. His father was a defense lawyer for the Scottsboro Boys, the nine black youths who had been falsely accused of rape in Alabama in 1931.
Born in Manhattan on Dec. 7, 1922, Louis Heilprin Pollak was one of three children of Walter and Marion Pollak. He graduated from Harvard and, after serving in the Army, received his law degree from Yale, where he was the editor of the Law Review. He was a clerk for Justice Wiley B. Rutledge of the Supreme Court in 1948 and 1949, then joined a prominent law firm in New York. It was there that he started working for the legal defense fund.
Mr. Pollak joined the Yale Law School faculty in 1955 and a decade later was named dean, a post he held until 1970.
Appointed to the law faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1974, Mr. Pollak was named dean in 1975. Three years later, President Carter appointed him to the federal court in Philadelphia.
In the hundreds of trials that he presided over in his 36 years on the bench (he had been a senior judge in semiretirement since 1992), Judge Pollak was known for advocating defendants’ rights — sometimes stoking controversy in the process.
In January 2002 in a murder case, he ruled that fingerprint experts could point out the similarities between prints from the crime scene to those of a defendant, but could not “present ‘evaluation’ testimony as to their ‘opinion’ that a particular latent print is in fact the print of a particular person.”
His initial decision delighted defense lawyers and alarmed law enforcement officials. Two months later, after three days of testimony at a special hearing, Judge Pollak reversed himself. Still, he expressed deep concern that “there have been at least a few instances in which fingerprint examiners, here and abroad, have made identifications that turned out to be erroneous.”
Besides his wife, Judge Pollak is survived by five daughters, Sally, Susan, Nancy, Libby and Debby; and seven grandchildren.
For Judge Pollak, his signature accomplishment was participating in Brown v. Board of Education.
“The decision in the Brown case, even though it was a decision about schools,” he said in an interview on NPR in 2004, “became a precedent for, in the next half-dozen years, a series of Supreme Court decisions where they didn’t even have to write opinions, where they knocked out segregation in buses, in parks, in swimming pools and the whole array of public institutions that had been blanketed with Jim Crow for half a century.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 12, 2012
An earlier version of this story misstated the timing of Mr. Pollak’s death. He died on Tuesday, not on Wednesday.
GEORGE LINDSEY, TV’S GOOBER PYLE
By PETER KEEPNEWS
Published: May 6, 2012
George Lindsey, the Alabama-born actor and comedian best known for playing the good-natured if none-too-bright gas station attendant Goober on three television series, died on Sunday in Nashville. He was 83.
George Lindsey in 1985.
His death was announced by the Marshall Donnelly Combs Funeral Home in Nashville. Mr. Lindsey had been in poor health after a stroke in March.
He introduced the character of Goober — the quintessential grinning hayseed, equal parts annoying and endearing — on “The Andy Griffith Show,” the long-running situation comedy set in the fictional North Carolina town of Mayberry. When Jim Nabors’s character, the similarly likable but naïve Gomer Pyle, was given his own series in 1964, Mr. Lindsey joined the Griffith show as Goober Pyle, Gomer’s cousin.
Goober outlived “The Andy Griffith Show” by many years. When Mr. Griffith left after the 1967-68 season to pursue a movie career, the setting and some of the characters were retained, and the show was reinvented as “Mayberry R.F.D.,” with Ken Berry as the star. Mr. Lindsey was one of several actors who continued in their old roles.
The character later found yet another home. Shortly after “Mayberry R.F.D.” was canceled in 1971, Mr. Lindsey joined the cast of “Hee Haw,” the syndicated variety show that blended country music and hokey comedy. He was once again a goofy gas station attendant, and he once again wore the beanie that was Goober’s trademark, although his castmates usually addressed him on camera as George. He remained with “Hee Haw” for more than 20 years.
George Smith Lindsey was born in Fairfield, Ala., on Dec. 17, 1928, the only child of George Ross Lindsey and the former Alice Smith, and grew up in Jasper, Ala. (Many sources wrongly give the year of his birth as 1935.) He attended Florence State Teachers College, now the University of North Alabama, where he played quarterback on the football team and acted in campus theatrical productions, and graduated in 1952 with a degree in biology and physical education.
After spending three years in the Air Force he moved to New York, where he studied at the American Theater Wing and performed as a comedian in local nightclubs. In 1962 he appeared on Broadway in the short-lived musical “All American,” but his acting career did not gain momentum until he and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he was soon appearing on “Gunsmoke,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and other television shows.
Mr. Lindsey, who had lived in Nashville for many years, is survived by his companion, Anne Wilson; his son, George Jr.; his daughter, Camden Jo Lindsey Gardner; and two grandsons. His marriage to Joyanne Herbert ended in divorce.
The character of Goober was not to everyone’s taste. Some critics considered Mr. Lindsey’s portrayal of a rural Southerner a demeaning caricature. Mr. Lindsey disagreed.
“Goober is every man,” he told The Associated Press in 1985. “Everyone finds something to like about ol’ Goober.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 8, 2012
An obituary on Monday about the actor George Lindsey misstated, in some copies, the current name of Florence State Teachers College, from which he graduated. It is the University of North Alabama, not the University of North Carolina.
VIDAL SASSOON, HAIRDRESSER AND TRENDSETTER
Vidal Sassoon in a scene from the documentary film “Vidal Sassoon The Movie.” He is shown on the Millennium Bridge in London. More Photos »
By BRUCE WEBER
Published: May 9, 2012
Vidal Sassoon, whose mother had a premonition that he would become a hairdresser and steered him to an apprenticeship in a London shop when he was 14, setting him on the path that led to his changing the way women wore and cared for their hair, died on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles police, who were called to the home, on Mulholland Drive, confirmed the death, attributing it to natural causes. Mr. Sassoon was known to have leukemia.
Mr. Sassoon brought a kind of architectural design to the haircut in the late 1950s and early 1960s, developing a look that eschewed the tradition of stiff, sprayed styles with the hair piled high and that dispensed with the need for women to wear hair curlers to bed and make weekly trips to the salon.
For Mr. Sassoon, the cut was the thing — just about the only thing — and he fashioned his clients’ hair into geometric shapes and sharp angles to complement their facial bone structure. His short, often striking styles helped define a new kind of sexy. They were also easy to care for and maintain — the wash-and-wear look, it was sometimes called — and they helped propel the youthful revolution in fashion (and just about everything else) that gripped London and then America and the rest of the world in the 1960s.
One of his early clients was the mod fashion designer Mary Quant, who created the miniskirt. Referring to it in a 2010 documentary film about him, she said to him, “You put the top on it.”
“He changed the way everyone looked at hair,” Grace Coddington, the creative director of American Vogue, said in an interview on Wednesday. “Before Sassoon, it was all back-combing and lacquer; the whole thing was to make it high and artificial. Suddenly you could put your fingers through your hair!”
Ms. Coddington, who was a model for Mr. Sassoon in the 1960s, wore the original version of the quintessential Sassoon style known as the five-point cut, a snug, sleek helmet with a W cut at the nape of the neck and a pointed spike in front of each ear.
“He didn’t create it for me; he created it on me,” Ms. Coddington said. “It was an extraordinary cut; no one has bettered it since. And it liberated everyone. You could just sort of drip-dry it and shake it.”
Mr. Sassoon’s salon on Bond Street in London became a hive of beautiful people, as did the ones he opened on Madison Avenue in New York in 1965 and, afterward, in Beverly Hills. Eventually he operated more than 20. Roman Polanski used the London salon for his film “Repulsion,” starring Catherine Deneuve, and he later created a sensation when he paid Mr. Sassoon $5,000 to cut Mia Farrow’s hair for “Rosemary’s Baby” and invited the news media to see it. The very short cut became Ms. Farrow’s signature, and the film proved to be a fine advertisement for him.
“It’s Vidal Sassoon!” Ms. Farrow says to a shocked character in the film. “It’s very in.”
Mr. Sassoon became a business pioneer as well, creating a line of hair products under his name. The shampoos, conditioners and other products were famously sold in television commercials featuring a woman with a lustrous head of hair and the handsome, debonair Mr. Sassoon at her side, declaring, “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.” Sales reached more than $100 million annually before he sold the company in 1983.
“He was the creator of sensual hair,” John Barrett, founder of the John Barrett Salon at Bergdorf Goodman, said Wednesday. “This was somebody who changed our industry entirely, not just from the point of view of cutting hair but actually turning it into a business. He was one of the first who had a product line bought out by a major corporation.”
Born in London in 1928, Mr. Sassoon was the child of poor parents. After his father left the family, he was raised partly in a Jewish orphanage until his mother remarried and reunited with Vidal when he was 11. He was an avid soccer player as a boy — and a lifelong fitness devotee — but he turned to hairdressing after his mother claimed she had had a vision of his future. She took him to a local shop where the proprietor decided the boy would do as an apprentice because he had good manners.
The shop was in a working-class neighborhood, and young Vidal, dreaming of better things, took elocution lessons to rid himself of his cockney diction. Meanwhile, he joined a Jewish organization that battled in the streets with the Mosley-ites, anti-Semitic British fascists who were followers of Oswald Mosley. In 1948, he traveled to Israel and fought in the war for its independence.
Mr. Sassoon opened his first salon in 1954.
“I made up my mind then that if I was going to be in hairdressing long term, I wanted to change things,” he recalled in the documentary “Vidal Sassoon: The Movie.” “I didn’t have a picture of what hair should be, but I had a definite picture of what hair shouldn’t be.”
Over nine years — inspired, he said, by Bauhaus architecture — he evolved his geometric style.
“When I looked at the architecture, the structure of buildings that were going up worldwide, you saw a whole different look, in shape,” he said. “My sense was hairdressing definitely needed to be changing.” He added: “To me hair meant geometry, angles. Cutting uneven shapes, as long as it suited that face and that bone structure.”
A breakthrough came in 1963 when he cut the long hair of the Hong Kong-born actress Nancy Kwan into a bob with sharp face-framing points; photos of what became known as the Kwan bob or the Kwan cut or simply the Kwan appeared in British and American Vogue and on fashion pages around the world.
Mr. Sassoon is survived by his fourth wife, Rhonda, and three children. A daughter, Catya, died of a drug overdose in 2002.
Especially in the early days, Mr. Sassoon was a disciplinarian as a salon keeper, known to send employees home if their shoes were not shined or to admonish a client touching her hair in mid-cut with a slap of the comb. As he developed his ideas, he did not always have patience with clients who wanted things their way rather than his. Once in frustration, he confessed, he threw a pair of scissors in the air and they stuck in the ceiling.
Rebecca R. Ruiz contributed reporting.
STACY ROBINSON, GIANTS RECEIVER IN THE ’80s
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: May 9, 2012
Stacy Robinson, a wide receiver who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants before working with the players union, has died. He was 50.
The Giants co-owner John Mara announced the death Tuesday. The place of death was not given. Robinson learned he had multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood, in 2009, according to a family statement. He underwent a bone-marrow transplant provided by his son Stacy and had entered hospice care.
A slender 5 feet 11 inches with blazing speed, Robinson played all six of his N.F.L. seasons for the Giants after he was drafted 46th over all out of North Dakota State in 1985. His career totals were modest: 749 yards and 7 touchdowns in 43 games. Most of his 48 career receptions came in his second season, when he caught 29 passes for 494 yards.
His most memorable game was Dec. 1, 1986, against the San Francisco 49ers on “Monday Night Football.” Trailing by 17-0 at halftime, the Giants scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to win, 21-17, on their way to the playoffs. Robinson caught a 34-yard pass from Phil Simms for the second touchdown, then set up the final score with a grab on a 49-yard pass to the 1-yard line. He finished with 5 catches for a career-high 116 yards.
In the Giants’ Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos in 1987, Robinson had 3 catches for 62 yards. His second Super Bowl title was in 1991, when the Giants beat the Buffalo Bills.
Robinson retired six months later at 29, telling The New York Times that he did not want to go through the “apprehension” of training camp and that he wanted to finish his master’s degree in business from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.
In recent years, he worked for the N.F.L. Players Association, mainly overseeing drug issues. Born in St. Paul, he was on the North Dakota State team that won the 1983 Division II national championship. He caught 88 passes for 1,626 yards and scored 13 touchdowns for the Bisons.
His survivors include his wife, Nadine, and three sons.
ADAM YAUCH, FOUNDER OF 1980s BEASTIE BOYS
By JON PARELES
Published: May 4, 2012
Adam Yauch, a rapper and founder of the pioneering and multimillion-selling hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 47.
Mr. Yauch in 2007.
Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Mr. Yauch in 2008.
His mother, Frances Yauch, confirmed his death. He had been treated for cancer of the salivary gland for the last three years.
With a scratchy voice that grew scratchier through the years, Mr. Yauch rapped as MCA in the Beastie Boys, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. They offered many listeners in the 1980s their first exposure to hip-hop. They were vanguard white rappers who helped extend the art of sampling and gained the respect of their African-American peers.
While many hip-hop careers are brief, the Beastie Boys appealed not only to the fans they reached in the 1980s but to successive generations, making million-selling albums into the 2000s. They grew up without losing their sense of humor or their ear for a party beat.
Mr. Yauch (pronounced yowk) was a major factor in the Beastie Boys’ evolution from their early incarnation, as testosterone-driven pranksters, to their later years as sonic experimenters, as socially conscious rappers — championing the cause of freedom in Tibet — and as keepers of old-school hip-hop memories. The Beastie Boys became an institution — one that could have arisen only amid the artistic, social and accidental connections of New York City.
In the history of hip-hop, the Beastie Boys were both improbable and perhaps inevitable: appreciators, popularizers and extrapolators of a culture they weren’t born into.
“The Beasties opened hip-hop music up to the suburbs,” said Rick Rubin, who produced the group’s 1986 debut album, in a recent interview with The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. “As crazy as they were, they seemed safe to Middle America, in a way black artists hadn’t been up to that time.”
The rapper Eminem said in a statement, “I think it’s obvious to anyone how big of an influence the Beastie Boys were on me and so many others.”
The Beastie Boys started their major-label career with two pivotal albums: “Licensed to Ill” (1986), a cornerstone of rap-rock that became the first hip-hop album to top the Billboard chart, and “Paul’s Boutique” (1989), a wildly eclectic, sample-based production that became a template for experimental hip-hop.
The Beasties brand expanded well beyond music: with their own magazine and record label, Grand Royal; with the social activism of Mr. Yauch’s Milarepa Foundation, which produced an international series of Tibetan Freedom Concerts; and with work in film, as Mr. Yauch (calling himself Nathanial Hörnblowér) directed Beastie Boys videos and went on to start Oscilloscope Laboratories, an independent film production and distribution company.
The Beastie Boys’ appeal endured. Into the 2000s they could headline large events like the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Each of their albums up to “To the Five Boroughs” in 2004 has sold at least a million copies, and many of them have sold in the multimillions, in the United States alone.
“I burn the competition like a flame thrower/My rhymes they age like wine as I get older,” Mr. Yauch rapped on the Beastie Boys’ 2011 album, “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.”
When they started rapping in 1983, the Beastie Boys — Mr. Yauch, Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) and Mike Diamond (Mike D) — were greeted by some hip-hop purists as a novelty act. They were Jewish bohemians, not ghetto survivors; they were jokers, not battlers. Yet the Beastie Boys recorded for a label that was a bastion of New York hip-hop, Def Jam, and they toured alongside Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J.
They went on to garner admiration and influence with productions that kept coming up with surprises — including, eventually, the rappers’ playing instruments again — and with rhymes that would mingle humor, boasting and an increasing idealism. Even when the Beastie Boys were treated as a joke, it was a joke they would be in on for decades to come.
Adam Nathaniel Yauch was born on Aug. 5, 1964, in Brooklyn. Playing bass, he and Mr. Diamond started the Beastie Boys in 1981 as a hard-core punk band. The group’s original drummer, Kate Schellenbach, has said, “Whereas other bands, just as awful as the Beastie Boys, would actually believe they were good, for Mike and Adam the whole point was to be terrible and admit it.”
That group broke up after releasing an eight-song, seven-inch EP, “Polly Wog Stew.” The Beastie Boys reappeared in 1983 with Mr. Horovitz on guitar, and made “Cooky Puss,” a 12-inch single of prank phone call recordings over a rock guitar riff and hip-hop scratching. The group had been listening to New York hip-hop since the late 1970s.
Mr. Yauch once said that the Beasties had started rapping as a joke, but found that audiences liked it better than their punk-rock. Mr. Rubin, then a student at New York University, joined the group as a disc jockey. He also brought them to the attention of Russell Simmons, the manager of Run-D.M.C. and other leading hip-hop acts of the era. He added the Beasties to his roster.
When Mr. Rubin and Mr. Simmons started Def Jam, the Beastie Boys were one of the label’s first signings: catalog number DJ 002, in 1984, was the Beastie Boys’ single “Rock Hard.” The Beastie Boys toured with Madonna in 1985, to the confusion of pop audiences.
But with the 1986 release of “Licensed To Ill,” hip-hop pushed its way onto rock radio. The songs blasted rock guitar riffs from bands like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin behind the Beastie Boys’ cartoon-voiced rhymes about girls, drunken escapades, vandalism and guns. “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” became a Top 10 single, and “Licensed to Ill” went on to sell more than nine million copies in the United States. The group toured with a stage set including caged go-go dancers and a 20-foot hydraulic penis.
The Beasties parted ways with Mr. Rubin and Def Jam amid a lawsuit over royalties. On “Paul’s Boutique,” their first album for Capitol, they worked with the Dust Brothers production team. The results were innovative, densely packed tracks that quick-cut amid rock, funk, jazz and more; meanwhile, the rappers shared the lyrics so thoroughly that all three might rap a word or two in a single line. The album went on to sell two million copies, and musicians inside and outside hip-hop have praised it as a landmark.
In 1992, the Beastie Boys expanded their ambitions as tastemakers by starting a label, Grand Royal, in association with Capitol. The label released music by, among others, At the Drive-In, Sean Lennon, Atari Teenage Riot and Jimmy Eat World. They also started Grand Royal magazine, which delved into fashion and movies as well as music. But those efforts lost money, and shut down in 2001.
With their album “Check Your Head” in 1992, the Beastie Boys began featuring their own instruments. They would go on to make an instrumental album, “The Mix-Up,” in 2007, which won a Grammy Award.
While the Beastie Boys’ music continued to offer a crunching, squealing good time during the 1990s, the rhymes it carried grew more mature. Vandalism was replaced by constructive thoughts, and offhand sexism was replaced by explicit respect for women. After travels in Tibet and Nepal, Mr. Yauch became a practicing Tibetan Buddhist. On the Beastie Boys’ 1994 album, “Ill Communication,” he rapped “Bodhisattva Vow,” a version of a pledge taken by devout Buddhists, over a hip-hop drumbeat mixed with the deep chanting of Buddhist monks. The Beasties also brought Buddhist monks to perform ceremonies at the 1994 Lollapalooza Festival.
In 1994 Mr. Yauch started the nonprofit Milarepa Fund, which presented the Tibetan Freedom Concert series to raise awareness of Chinese control of Tibet. The first one, in 1996, drew more than 100,000 people to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco; concerts followed in New York, Washington, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, Taipei and elsewhere. After Sept. 11, 2001, Milarepa organized New Yorkers Against Violence, offering relief efforts for victims of violence.
In 1998 he married Dechen Wangdu, who survives him along with their daughter, Tenzin Losel; and his parents, Frances and Noel Yauch.
Yet onstage and on albums, the Beastie Boys never grew overly serious. Mr. Yauch directed Beastie Boys videos, including “So Whatcha Want,” “Intergalactic,” “Body Movin’ ” and “Ch-Check It Out,” with a deft touch for slapstick and retro references. He also directed a 2006 documentary made from footage shot by Beasties fans, and a 2008 basketball documentary, “Gunnin’ for That No. 1 Spot.”
Mr. Yauch moved into film distribution and production with Oscilloscope Laboratories, operating it like an independent record label where everything was done in-house. Oscilloscope’s first releases, small indie films and documentaries, were modest in critical reception and box office, but the company quickly scaled up.
In 2009 Oscilloscope drew recognition for Oren Moverman’s military drama “The Messenger,” including Oscar nominations for best original screenplay and best supporting actor (Woody Harrelson). Another Oscar nomination, for the documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” followed.
Oscilloscope has continued to release films that often do not shy away from difficult topics, like a Columbine-style killing in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and the documentary “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.” It also kept a hand in music with documentaries like “Shut Up and Play the Hits,” about the band LCD Soundsystem. In his brief film career, Mr. Yauch had the respect of many veteran industry players, earning a reputation for nurturing films and filmmakers that others wouldn’t touch.
After his cancer diagnosis in 2009, Mr. Yauch went under extensive treatment. But he was eventually able to participate in the recording of “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two,” which is full of songs celebrating the sound and bygone figures of the 1980s New York City — uptown and downtown — that had nurtured the Beastie Boys.
Melena Ryzik contributed reporting.