Monthly Archives: August 2012


Artist's illustration

Artwork courtesy of Chandra X-ray Observatory

Massive Galaxy Cluster Finally Acts as Predicted

August 15, 2012 | Astronomers have discovered a supermassive galaxy cluster that both meets and challenges expectations for how clusters ought to behave. > read more

Poll Results: Mount Sharp or Aeolis Mons?

August 14, 2012 | Scientists associated with the Curiosity mission have two names for the towering peak inside Gale crater. readers told us which one they liked best. > read more

Milky Way’s Black Hole Once Active

August 17, 2012 | Evidence continues to mount that our galaxy’s supermassive black hole was not always the quiet neighbor it is now. > read more

Fly Through a 3D Map of the Universe

August 13, 2012 | A mind-boggling 1.5 million galaxies trace out the filaments, clusters, and voids in Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s new 3D map of the universe. > read more


S&T: Lauren Darby

Tour August’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

June 22, 2012 | Mark your calendars for the night of Saturday, August 11th, when the Perseid meteor shower will peak. Stay up late to catch the risings of Jupiter and Venus, or just enjoy Mars and Saturn low in the evening twilight. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Evening twilight. Binoculars help.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

August 17, 2012 | The Saturn-Spica-Mars triangle is lengthening again. Venus is a darkest-hour UFO. And as the season turns, the Dipper descends as Cassiopeia rises; their balance is tipping. > read more

SkyWeek Television Show
View SkyWeek as seen on PBS click here to watch this week’s episodeSponsored by Meade Instruments

August 13 - 19, 2012 Powered by TheSkyX from Software Bisque

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How Do We Know FAIR is a Hate Group? Let Us Count the Ways

By  Leah Nelson  on August 10, 2012

John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, the immigrant-bashing Los Angeles radio personalities who were suspended earlier this year when they referred to Whitney Houston as a “crack ho” and marveled that the late pop singer “took this long” to die, are back on the air and up to their old tricks.

In the August 3 edition of the “John & Ken Show,” the duo took up for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an anti-immigrant organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has called a hate group since 2008 because of its virulent and false attacks on non-white immigrants.

“The Federation for American Immigration Reform, I think, has been defined by some of these think tank organizations as a hate group,” Chiampou said.

“Really? The Federation for American Immigration Reform, which just researches the facts concerning America’s immigration policies, puts out reports concerning the amount of dollars spent on illegal immigrants, goes up and through that. But because some of their stuff points out the truth, which the other side doesn’t like, concerning how many illegals we have in this country, how much it costs this country, our failing policies, politicians who don’t stand up for our laws, who don’t stand up for border patrol, how they are suddenly labeled a hate group.”

OK, Ken, we’ll bite.

First, a quick factual correction. FAIR doesn’t “just” research “the facts” about immigration policy. It is a lobbying organization. This is no secret. On its own website, under “Our Objectives,” FAIR said it seeks “to influence public policy directly by lobbying (to the extent permitted by our tax status) and by protecting the citizens’ rights in the courts.” Its “mission,” in part, is to “advocate immigration policies that will best serve American environmental, societal, and economic interests today and into the future.”

So there’s that.

And then there’s the “facts” FAIR puts out there, the alleged “truth” that, you say, is so disliked by the “other side.”

Sometimes FAIR’s “facts” are true. More often, they’re debatable, culled as they are from dubious sources like FAIR’s sister organization, the Center for Immigration Studies.

The bottom line is, FAIR doesn’t peddle facts; it peddles hate. Its lobbying and legal efforts – such as the campaign that led to Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56 – are based on fomenting fear, on exploiting racial tensions and economic anxieties to convince people that they had better not let any more “aliens” into their country.

FAIR founder John Tanton, a man with a lengthy record of friendly correspondence with Holocaust deniers, a former Klan lawyer and leading white nationalist thinkers, has repeatedly suggested that racial conflict will be the outcome of immigration. In 1998, he told a reporter that whites would inevitably develop a racial consciousness because “most people don’t want to disappear into the dustbin of history,” and added that once whites did become racially conscious, the result would be “the war of each against all.”

Dan Stein, FAIR’s president, is no better. “Immigrants don’t come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing,” he said in 1997. “Many of them hate America, hate everything that the United States stands for. Talk to some of these Central Americans.”

Need more examples? Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm, a longtime member of FAIR’s board of advisors, once said that “new cultures” in America were “diluting what we are and who we are.” And Joseph Turner, FAIR’s former Western field representative, once accused Mexican immigrants of turning California into a “third world cesspool.”

Not to mention FAIR’s “suggested reading” on immigration, which includes white nationalist Peter Brimelow’s Alien Nation, a book whose central thesis is that America should remain a country dominated by whites.

FAIR also recommends Pat Buchanan’s State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, which argues that America’s shift away from being white-dominated is “one of the greatest tragedies in human history.”

So yes, John and Ken, FAIR is a hate group. Not because it promulgates “facts” and “truths” its opponents would rather ignore but because it promotes hatred of immigrants, especially non-white ones.

By defending racism, encouraging xenophobia and nativism, and giving its all to efforts to keep America white, FAIR has more than earned its place in the pantheon of hate groups. That is where it belongs, and that is where it will stay.


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Quick Facts

The United Nations’(UN) World Humanitarian Day focuses on increasing public awareness about humanitarian service worldwide and is annually observed on August 19.


World Humanitarian Day 2012 Theme: “I Was Here”

Alternative name

Día Mundial Humanitario

World Humanitarian Day 2012

Sunday, August 19, 2012

World Humanitarian Day 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

The United Nations’ (UN) World Humanitarian Day is held on August 19 each year. The day honors all humanitarians who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause, and those who have lost their lives in the cause of duty.

The day aims to increase public awareness about humanitarian assistance activities worldwide and the importance of international cooperation.


What Do People Do?

World Humanitarian Day is a day dedicated to humanitarians worldwide, as well as to increase public understanding of humanitarian assistance activities. The day aims to honor humanitarian workers who have lost their lives or injured themselves in the course of their work, and to acknowledge the ongoing work of humanitarian staff around the world.

Many communities and organizations try to increase the importance of humanitarians by distributing publicity and information material. Additionally, some try to speak to the press to help spread these key messages of World Humanitarian Day, while other groups organize public events worldwide that feature humanitarian work.

For the year 2010 and beyond, it is anticipated that World Humanitarian Day will focus on particular humanitarian themes to help increase public awareness.

Public Life

World Humanitarian Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.


Humanitarians provide life-saving assistance to millions of people worldwide. They place their own lives at risk to help others in conflict zones and areas of natural hazards. More than 700 humanitarian workers have died or experienced the most dangerous situations while trying to help those in need. Humanitarians provide support for different world challenges such as hunger, gender-based violence, refugees and displaced people, help for children, as well as clean water and access to sanitation.

World Humanitarian Day was established by the General Assembly of the UN in December 2008 and was first observed in August 2009. The date of August 19 is the anniversary date of the 2003 Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad where twenty-two people lost their lives including, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

The total number of people affected by natural disasters has risen over the past decade, and about 211 million people are directly affected each year. Women and children are especially affected because of their ongoing struggles with poverty, insecurity, hunger, poor health and environmental decline. There are new and difficult challenges that arise each year that will require more flexible funding and adaptable humanitarian work. The increasing economic crisis and global challenges such as poverty, global health problems, increase prices and the rising number of people on the move, increases the need for humanitarians each year.


World Humanitarian Day does not have a logo because the day does not “belong” to the UN or any other agency or organization.  The media documents support the day by capturing images that show people helping others that are in need of assistance.

World Humanitarian Day Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Thu Aug 19 2010 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Fri Aug 19 2011 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Sun Aug 19 2012 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Mon Aug 19 2013 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Tue Aug 19 2014 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Wed Aug 19 2015 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance

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It’s Hard to Imagine a Worse Choice for People of Color Than Paul Ryan

Though abhorrent, Ryan’s ideas are not new. Touted as an attempt to rescue America’s future, they’re ripped right out of America’s past. Imara Jones unravels the story.

Wall Street’s Frightening and Predatory Land Grab in Africa

Yet another example of the way in which the financial system thrives off of inequality, both internationally and here at home

Getting Serious About Jokes with the Writers of FX’s ‘Totally Biased’ visits the star and staff of the only late-night comedy shows hosted by a black person, which premiered last week on FX.

You Gotta Work the Culture If You Wanna Change the Politics Rinku Sen profiles several artists and cultural organizers whose work you can check out this summer—and at our Facing Race conference in November.

Our Aunties’ Best Tips to Beat the Summer Heat Find yourself an empty gourd, a place to nap, or a frozen watermelon, and lay very, very still.

Undocumented Immigrants Ride Through South, Headed For a DNC Coming Out Why would a group of people who are ineligible to vote engage in electoral politics? We talk to a rider on the “UndocuBus” to find out.

Advocates Launch Fund to Help DREAMers Pay $465 ‘Deferred Action’ Application FeeIt is estimated that more than one million young people brought to the U.S. as children and raised in the country may be eligible for the program.

Michelle Obama Jokingly Scolds Gabby Douglas for Her Post-Olympics Egg McMuffin “You’re setting me back, Gabby,” the First Lady told Douglas.

30 TSA Officers Report Racial Profiling at Boston’s Logan Airport The news made waves in part because the program that’s in question at Boston’s Logan airport is being eyed as a potential model for airports across the country.

Former Undocumented Immigrant Leo Manzano Wins Silver Medal for U.S. Mexican-born American runner Leo Manzano won a silver medal in the men’s 1,500-meter final, running the fastest time ever by a U.S. athlete at the Games.

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By Daniel E. Slotnik
Published: August 10, 2012   
  • Carlo Rambaldi, a special-effects virtuoso who won two Academy Awards for his work on Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and Ridley Scott’s “Alien” and a special achievement award from the Motion Picture Academy for John Guillermin’s 1976 remake of “King Kong,” died Friday in southern Italy. He was 86.
Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

Carlo Rambaldi in 2002 with an Italian film award.

ILM/Universal Studios

E.T., the Oscar-winning Mr. Rambaldi’s most famous creation.

His death was announced by Mario Caligiuri of the Calabria region’s cultural affairs council.

Mr. Rambaldi was adept at designing monsters, from the terrestrial to the decidedly not. His expertise in techniques including puppetry and mechanical and electronic engineering allowed him to breathe life into the most fantastic movie creatures of the 1970s and ’80s.

He designed and built an eyeless animatronic head that realized H. R. Giger’s parasitic beast in “Alien” and the benign, musical aliens of Mr. Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” He also collaborated on animatronic masks, suits and a 42-foot-tall ape for “King Kong.” But his crowning achievement was “E.T.”

In “E.T.” an alien is marooned on Earth, where he befriends a lonely boy named Elliott who helps him to contact his home planet and return to space. For the movie to succeed, audiences would have to identify with, and love, a prop.

So Mr. Rambaldi used steel, polyurethane, rubber, and hydraulic and electronic controls to create an alien so ugly it was beguiling, with outsize eyes based on his cat’s and wizened skin (in some scenes E.T. was played by an actor in a suit). The alien was capable of 150 separate moves, like wrinkling his nose, furrowing his brow and extending his neck.

“Carlo Rambaldi was E.T.’s Geppetto,” Steven Spielberg said in a statement on Friday.

The movie has grossed nearly $800 million worldwide, proving that special effects could endear as well as titillate and horrify.

“The success of ‘E.T.’ means that it no longer is important that you have Marlon Brando or John Travolta,” Mr. Rambaldi told The New York Times. “If the special effect is created very well, most people don’t think whether it’s mechanical or not — they’re thinking about the story.”

Carlo Rambaldi was born in Vigarano, Italy, in 1925. He attended the Academy of Fine Arts of Bologna and had a successful career as an artist before he started working on films. His first creation was a fire-breathing dragon in the 1957 Italian film “Sigfrido.”

He worked on gory horror films in the ’60s and early ’70s, including “Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein” and “Andy Warhol’s Dracula,” as well as Dario Argento’s thriller “Deep Red.”

The producer Dino de Laurentiis reached out to Mr. Rambaldi for help with the special effects in “King Kong.” He moved to the United States in the mid-1970s and stayed more than a decade, working on films like David Lynch’s “Dune” and Richard Fleischer’s “Conan the Destroyer.”

His last credited work was “Primal Rage,” a 1988 horror film directed by his son Vittorio.

Mr. Rambaldi was a traditionalist who disliked the advent of computerized special effects.

“The mystery’s gone,” he told an Italian news service. “It’s as if a magician had revealed all of his tricks.”

Information about Mr. Rambaldi’s survivors was not immediately available.

Mr. Rambaldi was susceptible to the charms of his creations, especially “E.T.,” even though he knew the tricks behind them.

“When I finally saw the finished movie,” he said, “even I cried a little.”





Published: August 8, 2012

  • Roy S. Bryce-Laporte, a sociologist who led one of the nation’s first African-American studies departments, at Yale University, and did research that advanced understanding of blacks who came to the United States voluntarily rather than as slaves, died on July 31 in Sykesville, Md. He was 78.

Colgate University

Roy S. Bryce-Laporte

His brother, Herrington J. Bryce, said that the cause was undetermined, but that he had had a series of small strokes.

Professor Bryce-Laporte was named director of Yale’s new department of African-American studies in 1969, when colleges and universities were recruiting black students and searching for ways to include their culture, history and other concerns in the curriculum.

Students participated in the selection of Professor Bryce-Laporte. One of them, Donald H. Ogilvie, praised him as “not all academician and not all activist,” adding that Professor Bryce-Laporte was “still angry.”

Professor Bryce-Laporte taught a core course in the new program, “The Black Experience: Its Changes and Continuities,” which spanned the history of New World blacks from pre-slavery recruitment in Africa to 20th-century slums. He emphasized that black studies must address hot-button topics like racial stereotyping while retaining academic rigor.

“Black studies is the way by which respect is to be given to blacks and to knowledge about blacks,” he said in an article in The New York Times in 1969.

In an interview on Tuesday, the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who has written influentially on the black experience, said that as a Yale freshman he was inspired by Professor Bryce-Laporte to become a professor himself. “A different model was available to me,” he said.

Professor Gates said Professor Bryce-Laporte had urged students to involve themselves in activities like writing for the college newspaper and joining secret societies as steps to acquiring influence in the larger society. He said Professor Bryce-Laporte told students, “You’ve been chosen, you’ve been blessed.”

Sidney W. Mintz, chairman of the committee that created Yale’s black studies curriculum, called Professor Bryce-Laporte “the first manager of the futures” of the outstanding black students drawn to Yale. He advised them to cultivate discipline, no matter how eager they were to change the world.

“You have to be adults,” he said, according to Professor Mintz, now research professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University.

Yale’s program went beyond that of some colleges by studying blacks in the entire Western Hemisphere, an approach that meshed with Professor Bryce-Laporte’s research focus. He wrote articles and contributed to books on the African diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean. He examined how some sought new lives in the United States, and how some of them returned to the places in the Western Hemisphere they had left. The bulk of earlier research had concerned blacks brought unwillingly to the United States as slaves.

In 1986, when the centennial of the Statue of Liberty was being celebrated, Professor Bryce-Laporte curated an exhibit at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Manhattan that focused on black immigration. He collected old photographs, diaries and certificates of nationality given to laborers. “If there is a forgotten or overlooked fact of black history, it is migration,” he said in an interview with The Times.

Roy Simon Bryce-Laporte was born in Panama City on Sept. 7, 1933, and earned an associate’s degree from the University of Panama. He moved with his family to the United States and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He next did advanced studies at the University of Puerto Rico, then went to the University of California, Los Angeles, to complete a Ph.D. in sociology.

Before moving to Yale, where he taught for three years, he was an assistant sociology professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York. After his time at Yale, he led a varied career that included being a Woodrow Wilson International Scholar and the first director of the Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies at the Smithsonian Institution.

At Colgate University, Professor Bryce-Laporte was John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur professor of sociology and anthropology, and director of the Africana and Latin American Studies Program. He taught a course called “Total Institutions” in which he compared plantation slavery with social life in prisons and asylums.

Professor Bryce-Laporte, who had dual American and Panamanian citizenship, was married to Dorotea Lowe Bryce, who died in 2009. In addition to his brother, he is survived by his companion, Marian D. Holness; his sons, Robertino and Rene; his daughter, Camila Bryce-Laporte Morris; his sisters, Celestina Carter and Yvonne St. Hill; and three grandsons.





Published: August 7, 2012

  • Marvin Hamlisch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who imbued his movie and Broadway scores with pizazz and panache and often found his songs in the upper reaches of the pop charts, died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 68 and lived in New York.

Marvin Hamlisch


Martha Swope

A rehearsal of “A Chorus Line,” with music by Marvin Hamlisch, from 1975.

Alex J. Berliner/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, via Associated Press

Mr. Hamlisch with Barbra Streisand.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

A scene from the final performance of the Broadway musical “A Chorus Line” in 1990. Marvin Hamlisch won a Tony Award for his score to the show.

Nancy Kaye/Associated Press

Marvin Hamlisch, right, at the piano with the lyricist Howard Ashman in 1986.

He collapsed on Monday after a brief illness, a family friend said.

For a few years starting in 1973, Mr. Hamlisch spent practically as much time accepting awards for his compositions as he did writing them. He is one of a handful of artists to win every major creative prize, some of them numerous times, including an Oscar for “The Way We Were” (1973, shared with the lyricists Marilyn and Alan Bergman), a Grammy as best new artist (1974), and a Tony and a Pulitzer for “A Chorus Line” (1975, shared with the lyricist Edward Kleban, the director Michael Bennett and the book writers James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante).

All told, he won three Oscars, four Emmys and four Grammys. His omnipresence on awards and talk shows made him one of the last in a line of celebrity composers that included Henry Mancini, Burt Bacharach and Stephen Sondheim. Mr. Hamlisch, bespectacled and somewhat gawky, could often appear to be the stereotypical music school nerd — in fact, at 7 he was the youngest student to be accepted to the Juilliard School at the time — but his appearance belied his intelligence and ability to banter easily with the likes of Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin. His melodies were sure-footed and sometimes swashbuckling. “One,” from “A Chorus Line,” with its punchy, brassy lines, distills the essence of the Broadway showstopper.

“A Chorus Line,” a backstage musical in which Broadway dancers told their personal stories, started as a series of taped workshops, then evolved into a show that opened at the Public Theater in 1975 and moved to Broadway later that year. It ran for 6,137 performances, the most of any Broadway musical until it was surpassed by “Cats.”

“I have to keep reminding myself that ‘A Chorus Line’ was initially considered weird and off the wall,” Mr. Hamlisch told The New York Times in 1983. “You mustn’t underestimate an audience’s intelligence.” The lyricist Alan Jay Lerner called “A Chorus Line” “the great show business story of our time.”

Mr. Hamlisch had a long association with Barbra Streisand that began when, at 19, he became a rehearsal pianist for her show “Funny Girl.” Yet he told Current Biography in 1976 that Ms. Streisand was reluctant to record what became the pair’s greatest collaboration, “The Way We Were,” the theme from the 1973 movie of the same name in which Ms. Streisand starred with Robert Redford.

“I had to beg her to sing it,” he said. “She thought it was too simple.”

Mr. Hamlisch prevailed, though, and the song became a No. 1 pop single, an Oscar winner and a signature song for Ms. Streisand. They continued to work together across the decades; Mr. Hamlisch was the musical director for her 1994 tour and again found himself accepting an award for his work, this time an Emmy.

Ms. Streisand said in a statement through her publicist that the world will always remember Mr. Hamlisch’s music, but that it was “his brilliantly quick mind, his generosity and delicious sense of humor that made him a delight to be around.”

Mr. Hamlisch had his second-biggest pop hit with “Nobody Does It Better,” the theme from the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me,” written with the lyricist Carole Bayer Sager. Carly Simon’s recording of the song reached No. 2 in 1977. Thom Yorke, the lead singer of the band Radiohead, which has performed the song in concert more recently, called it “the sexiest song ever written.”

Yet for all Mr. Hamlisch’s pop success — he and Ms. Bayer Sager also wrote a No. 1 soul hit for Aretha Franklin, “Break It to Me Gently” — his first love was writing for theater and the movies. His score for “The Sting,” which adapted the ragtime music of Scott Joplin, made him a household ubiquity in 1973.

Despite the acclaim he often said he thought his background scores were underappreciated. He said he would love for an audience to “see a movie once without the music” to appreciate how the experience changed. He would go on to write more than 40 movie scores.

Marvin Frederick Hamlisch was born June 2, 1944, in New York . His father, Max, was an accordionist, and at age 5 Mr. Hamlisch was reproducing on the piano songs he heard on the radio; Juilliard soon followed. According to his wife, Terre Blair, he was being groomed as “the next Horowitz,” but when all the doors were closed and everyone was gone he would play show tunes. He performed some concerts and recitals as a teenager at Town Hall and other Manhattan auditoriums, but soon gave up on the idea of being a full-time performer.

“Before every recital, I would violently throw up, lose weight, the veins on my hands would stand out,” he told Current Biography.

He had no such reaction, though, when his song “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows,” with lyrics by Howard Liebling, became a Top 20 hit in 1965 for Lesley Gore, when Mr. Hamlisch was 21. The movie producer Sam Spiegel heard him playing piano a few years later at a party and as a result Mr. Hamlisch scored his first film, “The Swimmer.”

Mr. Hamlisch soon moved to Los Angeles, and the successes snowballed. But he remained a New Yorker through and through. He once said he liked New York because it was the one place “where you’re allowed to wear a tie.”

Mr. Hamlisch is survived by Ms. Blair, a television broadcaster and producer, whom he married in 1989.

After “A Chorus Line,” Mr. Hamlisch scored another Broadway hit, “They’re Playing Our Song,” based on his relationship with Ms. Bayer Sager (who wrote the lyrics), in 1979. It ran for 1,082 performances. After that, the accolades subsided but the work didn’t. He worked with various lyricists on subesequent musicals, including “Jean Seberg” (1983), which was staged in London but never reached Broadway, and “Smile” (1986), which did reach Broadway but had a very brief run. His most steady work continued to come from the movies. He wrote the background scores for “Ordinary People,” “Sophie’s Choice” and, most recently, “The Informant.” His later theater scores included “The Goodbye Girl” (1993), “Sweet Smell of Success” (2002) and “Imaginary Friends” (2002). He had also completed the scores for an HBO movie based on the life of Liberace, “Behind the Candelabra,” and for a musical based on the Jerry Lewis film “The Nutty Professor,” which opened in Nashville last month.

According to his official Web site, Mr. Hamlisch held the title of pops conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and others.

In more recent years, Mr. Hamlisch became an ambassador for music, traveling the country and performing and giving talks at schools. He often criticized the cuts in arts education.

“I don’t think the American government gets it,” he said during an interview at the Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana, Calif. “I don’t think they understand it’s as important as math and science. It rounds you out as a person. I think it gives you a love of certain things. You don’t have to become the next great composer. It’s just nice to have heard certain things or to have seen certain things. It’s part of being a human being.”

Despite all his honors, Mr. Hamlisch was always most focused on, and most excited about, his newest project. Ms. Blair said. And, she said, he was always appreciative of his gift: “He used to say, ‘It’s easy to write things that are so self-conscious that they become pretentious, that have a lot of noise. It’s very hard to write a simple melody.’ ”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 7, 2012

An earlier version of this article said that Alan Jay Lerner was a composer; he was a lyricist.





Published: August 7, 2012

  • Judith Crist, one of America’s most widely read film critics for more than three decades and a provocative presence in millions of homes as a regular reviewer on the “Today” show, died Tuesday at her home in Manhattan. She was 90.

Gabe Palacio/ImageDirect

Judith Crist

Her death was confirmed by her son, Steven.

Ms. Crist came to prominence when film was breaking with the conventions of the Hollywood studio era while experiencing a resurgence in popularity. She championed a new generation of American directors like Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen and new actors like Robert De Niro and Faye Dunaway.

Her commentary had many homes: The New York Herald Tribune, where she was the first woman to be made a full-time critic for a major American newspaper; New York magazine, where she was the founding film critic; and TV Guide, which most defined her to readers. Her reviews appeared there for 22 years at a time when the magazine reached a peak readership of more than 20 million.

She was the “Today” show’s first regular movie critic, a morning fixture on NBC from 1963 to 1973. And she wrote for Saturday Review, Gourmet and Ladies’ Home Journal.

A Harris Poll of moviegoers in the 1960s cited her as their favorite critic. When TV Guide decided to dismiss her in 1983 to replace her column with a computerized movie summary, executives told her that they might beg her to return in six months. The magazine was deluged with letters and asked her back three weeks later. She was given a raise and stayed until 1988.

Her zingers could be withering. In March 1965, she panned three major releases in a single “Today” appearance: “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (“A kind of dime-store holy picture”), “Lord Jim” (“A lot of heavy five-cent philosophy”) and “The Sound of Music” (“Icky-sticky”).

Reviewing Anne Bancroft’s performance as a troubled wife in the 1964 film “The Pumpkin Eater,” Ms. Crist wrote in The Herald Tribune, “She seems a cowlike creature with no aspirations or intellect above her pelvis.” Of “The Sound of Music,” a box-office smash in 1965 and one of the most popular films of all time, she said, “The movie is for the 5-to-7 set and their mommies who think the kids aren’t up to the stinging sophistication and biting wit of ‘Mary Poppins.’ ”

She kicked up storms almost immediately after the paper made her its movie critic in 1963. Six weeks after her appointment, her scathing review of “Spencer’s Mountain,” starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara, led Warner Brothers and Radio City Music Hall, where the film was shown, to briefly withdraw their advertising. The Herald Tribune’s publisher stood behind her. The ads soon returned.

Her put-down of “Cleopatra” the next month “as a monumental mouse” added to her notoriety. There were threats, soon forgotten, to ban her from screenings. The critic Roger Ebert told The Chicago Tribune in 1999 that the movie industry’s retaliation for her commentary “led to every newspaper in the country saying, ‘Hey, we ought to get a real movie critic.’ ”

Ms. Crist eschewed pretension, but never explanation. Though she had disagreements with Pauline Kael of The New Yorker, she generally avoided the kind of intellectual dueling that Ms. Kael engaged in with Andrew Sarris of The Village Voice. Her job, she said, was to expand on the “Wow!” or the “Yuck!” a moviegoer might utter. The author and editor Richard R. Lingeman, writing in The New York Times Book Review in 1968, said her “level of discourse” was more that of Consumer Reports than of Partisan Review.

Her enthusiasm for film cut across all genres. In a 1985 interview with The Christian Science Monitor, she insisted that a true movie fan takes James Bond as seriously as “the grand auteurism of Bergman.”

Yet many of her largest bouquets went to auteurs like Truffaut, Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray and David Lean. Her American favorites included Stanley Kubrick, John Cassavetes and Robert Altman.

Her knife could cut both ways. In reviewing “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” Kubrick’s satirical 1964 masterpiece, she called Kubrick a “boy genius.” But four years later she said his film “2001: A Space Odyssey” would be “pithy and potent” — if it were cut in half.

Ms. Crist’s acidity provoked the director Billy Wilder to say, “Inviting her to review one of your pictures is like inviting the Boston Strangler to massage your neck.”

Judith Klein was born in Manhattan on May 22, 1922. Her family moved to Montreal when she was an infant, and she spent her first 12 years there before moving back to New York.

Her father, Solomon Klein, had business interests in furs and jewelry but lost everything in the Depression. He became a traveling salesman and invented things, according to an essay she wrote in Time magazine in 2008. Her mother, the former Helen Schoenberg, was a librarian and translator.

Ms. Crist was 5 when she saw her first movie, “7th Heaven,” a silent film with an Oscar-winning performance by Janet Gaynor. But she became a “movie nut,” she said, when she saw Charlie Chaplin’s “Gold Rush” (1925). She began sneaking out to the movies, telling her mother that she was swimming at the Y or studying at the library.

Ms. Crist said she might have made Phi Beta Kappa at Hunter College in Manhattan had she not cut class so many times to go to the movies. She went on to do graduate work in 18th-century English literature at Columbia, teach at Washington State University, become a civilian English instructor for the Air Force and attend the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia, finishing her degree in 1945.

Her first job at The Herald Tribune was assistant to the women’s editor. After becoming a general-assignment reporter, she won a George Polk Award in 1951 for her education coverage.

She saw her first “blue” movie as the only woman covering Senate hearings on pornography in New York in 1945. Her male colleagues insisted that she leave the room during their private screening of the film in question, “Breaking In Blondie.” The unbuttoning scene was just beginning when she had to leave.

Her pocketbook gave her an advantage, however, while covering a news conference for a new Marilyn Monroe film. When Monroe broke a shoulder strap, Ms. Crist supplied her with a safety pin and was granted an exclusive interview.

She began writing theater reviews in 1957 while continuing to cover news. Three years later she became arts editor. During a newspaper strike in 1963 she reviewed theater and movies for WABC. Her aptitude for the medium was noticed by the “Today” show producers who later hired her. After the strike’s end, and after meeting with The Tribune’s editor, James Bellows, and publisher, John Hay Whitney (known as Jock), she became The Tribune’s movie critic on April 1, 1963. She wrote that she was immediately “famous” six weeks later for her “Spencer’s Mountain” review, which described the film as “sheer prurience and perverted morality disguised as piety.”

When the film’s producer and theater threatened advertisement cuts, The Herald Tribune stood firmly behind her on First Amendment grounds.

As movies veered toward more explicit sexuality, she could be critical.

“I’m tired of bare breasts, buttocks and bellies,” she said in an interview with Newsweek in 1967. “I’m not a bluenose, but this penchant for flesh is moronic and unhealthy. It’s a big shill.”

Ms. Crist, who taught at the Columbia journalism school for more than 50 years, continuing until this February, also held a small film festival in Tarrytown, N.Y. It began in 1971 and included appearances by famous directors and actors, as well as showings of still-unreleased movies. Woody Allen used it as a model for his fictional film festival in “Stardust Memories.” She ended it in 2006.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Ms. Crist reviewed films for Coming Attractions magazine. She continued to write on other topics, including an article on TV dinners for Gourmet magazine in 2000.

Ms. Crist published a collection of reviews, “The Private Eye, the Cowboy, and the Very Naked Girl: Movies From Cleo to Clyde” (1968) and edited, designed or contributed to several more books.

She is survived by her son, editor and publisher emeritus of The Daily Racing Form and a former reporter for The New York Times. Her husband, William B. Crist, a public relations counselor, died in 1993.

Ms. Crist said a critic must be an egomaniac. But she went on to say a larger job requirement was passion, perhaps even love, for what movies are, do and can be.

“Amid all the easily loved darlings of Charlie Brown’s circle, obstreperous Lucy holds a special place in my heart,” she said. “She fusses and fumes and she carps and complains. That’s because Lucy cares. And it’s the caring that counts.”




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Curiosity artwork


Curiosity Lands in Gale Crater

August 5, 2012 | After a perilous and complicated descent to the Red Planet’s surface, Curiosity has radioed “A-OK” to an anxious mission team waiting back on Earth. > read more

Watch Curiosity Descend onto Mars

August 7, 2012 | See through Curiosity’s eyes as it descends to the surface of the Red Planet. > read more

Orbiter Spies Curiosity’s “Crime Scene”

August 7, 2012 | As seen from orbit, Curiosity is surrounded by wrecked pieces of the capsule that accompanied it to the floor of Gale crater. > read more

Curiosity’s Name Game

August 8, 2012 | Scientists associated with the Curiosity mission have two names for the towering peak inside Gale crater. Sky & Telescope wants to know: Which name do you prefer? > read more

Messenger Hits Eighth Birthday

August 7, 2012 | NASA’s emissary to Mercury just celebrated the eighth anniversary of its launch from Cape Canaveral in 2004. Here’s a recap of some of the stuff we’ve learned about Mercury since Messenger arrived at the Iron Planet. > read more


Fred Bruenjes

Perseids at Their Prime

August 9, 2012 | The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend, providing skywatchers with a great opportunity to see some incoming bits of the cosmos. > read more

Tour August’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

June 22, 2012 | Mark your calendars for the night of Saturday, August 11th, when the Perseid meteor shower will peak. Stay up late to catch the risings of Jupiter and Venus, or just enjoy Mars and Saturn low in the evening twilight. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

August 13th, twilight

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

August 10, 2012 | Mars finally shoots the gap between Saturn and Spica in the western twilight. And don’t miss the Perseid meteors! > read more

SkyWeek Television Show
View SkyWeek as seen on PBS click here to watch this week’s episodeSponsored by Meade Instruments

August 6 - 12, 2012 Powered by TheSkyX from Software Bisque

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From the Southern Poverty Law Center:

The murderous attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin this past Sunday by neo-Nazi skinhead Wade Michael Page was just the latest in a series of terrorist incidents and plots by the radical right. Earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented a third straight year of extraordinary growth that has swelled the ranks of extremist groups to record levels. The SPLC is now tracking 1,018 hate groups, a 69 percent increase since 2000. Following is a list of Hatewatch blogs, SPLC news and national headlines related to the shooting in Wisconsin, the rise of extremism, the neo-Nazi skinhead movement and the racist music scene. For more information, and links to all of our coverage click here.

Hatewatch Blog and SPLC Coverage of the Sikh Temple Shooting

Neo-Nazi Killer Wade Page was Member of Hammerskin Nation

White Supremacists React to Sikh Massacre

Alleged Sikh Temple Shooter Former Member of Skinhead Band


Wis. Temple Shooter’s Motives Might Never Be Known Associated Press | August 8, 2012

Music Style Is Called Supremacist Recruiting Tool New York Times | August 7, 2012

Neo-Nazi Rampage: Army Psy-Ops Vet, White Power Musician ID’d As Gunman in Sikh Temple Shooting Democracy Now! | August 7, 2012

Wisconsin Killer Fed and Was Fueled by Hate-Driven Music New York Times | August 6, 2012

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It is one week into the month of August, and the 2012 Tax Free Days are upon us.

The holiday originated in the state of Texas in 1999, when it decided to exempt certain back-to-school purchases from the state sales tax. In all, 15 states hold tax-free holidays.


If you have ever wondered when your state will host its yearly sales-tax holiday and which items are covered (or if your state even has a tax-free holiday), the following gives you the information you need for your back-to-school shopping, as well as other non-school items such as Energy Star appliances. You do not have to have children to save on taxable items; washing machines, dryers and even office supplies are tax-free in some states.

Some of the tax-free offerings have passed, most are in August, and even a few are in November.



Clothing: Including coats, diapers, and shoes. $100 or less per article of clothing – no cosmetics, handbags, dance shoes, or cleated or spiked athletic shoes.
Computers: Including computer packages, PDAs, software, printers, and print cartridges. Single purchase of $750 or less – no cell phones or video games.
School and Art Supplies: (Based on school lists) Backpacks, lunchboxes, and calculators. $50 or less per item.
Textbooks: (Based on school lists) Sale price between $30 and $50.
Other Books: Up to $30.


Clothing: Including diapers, coats, shoes, costumes, and wedding apparel. Less than $100 per item.
Accessories: Including handbags, briefcases, wigs, jewelry, and non-prescription sunglasses. Less than $50 per item.
School and Art Supplies: (Based on school lists) Including backpacks, lunchboxes, and calculators. No dollar limit given.
Reference Supplies: Reference books, maps, globes, textbooks, and workbooks. No dollar limit given.


Clothing and Footwear: Under $300 per item – no athletic uniforms or protective gear.


Clothing and Shoes: Including diapers, backpacks, coats, costumes, sports uniforms, and cleated or spiked shoes. Up to $75 per item.
School Supplies: Including calculators and lunch boxes. Up to $15 per item.


Clothing and Footwear: Including work and school uniforms, diapers, and coats. Under $100 per item – no backpacks, book bags, handbags, athletic uniforms, wallets, watches, or shoes with spikes or cleats.


Tangible Personal Property (non-business use): Just about everything, including clothing, computers, furniture, school supplies, and more. The first $2,500 per item is tax-free, with the exception of vehicles and restaurant meals (including to-go orders).


Clothing and Footwear: Including coats, diapers, and work and school uniforms. Items priced at $100 or less – no handbags, backpacks, jewelry, or watches.


Almost Anything: Items up to $2,500 or less.


Clothing and Shoes: Includes diapers, coats, and uniforms. Up to $100 per item. Excludes jewelry, purses, luggage, wallets, backpacks, skates, and skis.


Clothing: Including coats, diapers, and school uniforms. Up to $100 per item – no briefcases, handbags, or ties.
School Supplies: Including backpacks, lunch boxes, USB drives, and inkjet refills. Up to $50 per purchase – no batteries, headphones, or digital cameras.
Computers and Software: Including systems, tablet computers, and peripherals. Up to $3,500 for computers and peripherals; up to $350 for software.


Clothing and Shoes: Including diapers, bridal wear, and school and work uniforms. Less than $100 per item – no athletic uniforms or protective gear, costumes, handbags, or briefcases.
Computers: Including tablets, printer paper, ink cartridges, speakers, and e-readers that include computing functions like word processing or spreadsheet programs. Less than $1,000 for computers and less than $500 for peripherals and equipment – no scanners, zip drives, or software that is not bundled with a qualifying computer purchase.
School Supplies: Including art supplies and day planners. Less than $15 per item; less than $100 per item for backpacks and calculators.


Clothing, Footwear, and School Supplies: Including diapers, coats, and school and athletic uniforms. $100 or less per item.
School Supplies: Including book bags, lunch boxes, and calculators. $100 or less per item.
School Reference Materials: Reference books, maps, globes, textbooks, and workbooks. $300 or less per item.
Sports and Recreational Gear: Including dance shoes, cleated and spiked shoes, and protective padding and helmets. $50 or less per item.
Computers: Including tablets, netbooks, and computer systems with CPU, mouse, keyboard, monitor, and speakers. $3,500 or less per item – no separate peripherals or e-readers.
Computer Supplies: Including data storage media, PDAs, printers, and paper and ink. $250 or less per item – no cell phones.


Energy Star Products: Includes washer, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, and dehumidifiers.


Clothing and Shoes: Including coats, costumes, diapers, and athletic and school uniforms. Less than $100 per item – no handbags or briefcases, sports gloves, or protective gear.


Clothing and Accessories: Including costumes, diapers, handbags, hats, shoes, swimwear, skates, and dance or athletic shoes. No dollar limit given – no rented items, cosmetics, eyewear, or jewelry.
School Supplies: Including calculators, book bags, books, and lunch boxes. No dollar limit given.
Computers, Printers, and Software: Including printer supplies. No dollar limit given – no cell phones, cameras, e-readers, or MP3 players.
Home Linens: Including sheets, towels, bath mats, pillows, and blankets. No dollar limit given – no curtains, shower curtains, furniture, housewares or table cloths.


Clothing: Including coats, school uniforms, shoes, and hats. $100 or less per item – no bags, jewelry, or sports gear.
Computers: Including tablets, laptops, and peripherals and software bundled with computers. $1,500 or less per item – no separately sold peripherals, software, printers, PDAs, or storage media.
School Supplies: Including art supplies, backpacks, lunch boxes, and calculators. $100 or less per item – no reference books or printer supplies.


Clothing, Footwear, and Backpacks: Including diapers, work clothes and uniforms, winter wear, and swimwear. Less than $100 per item. Backpacks for use by elementary and secondary students only – no handbags, helmets, or protective sports gear.
School Supplies: Including book bags, lunch boxes, and calculators. Less than $100 per item.


Clothing and Footwear: Including coats and rain gear, school uniforms, diapers, and costumes. $100 or less per item – no sports equipment or protective gear, handbags, or jewelry.
School Supplies: Including art supplies, dictionaries and thesauruses, calculators, book bags, musical instruments, and accessories. $20 or less per item – no PDAs, printers, or digital storage media.


Energy Star and WaterSense Products: Including dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators, HVAC equipment, bathroom faucets, shower heads, and toilets. Used items may qualify. $2,500 or less per item – must be for noncommercial home use.

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Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples.

Local names

Name Language
International Day of the World’s Indigenous People English
Día Internacional de las Poblaciones Indígenas Spanish

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People 2012 Theme: “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

Indigenous cultures across the planet are recognized on International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. Illustration based on artwork from © Niedzieski/Nicolette Neish/Victor Maffe

What do people do?

People from different nations are encouraged to participate in observing the day to spread the UN’s message on indigenous peoples. Activities may include educational forums and classroom activities to gain an appreciation and a better understanding of indigenous peoples. Events may include messages from the UN secretary general and other key leaders, performances by indigenous artists, and panel discussions on reconciliation.

Public life

The UN’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is a United Nations day of observance but it is not a public holiday.


The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is celebrated on August 9 each year to recognize the first UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations meeting in Geneva in 1982. On December 23, 1994, the UN General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People should be observed on August 9 annually during the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People.

In 2004 the assembly proclaimed the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014). The assembly also decided to continue observing the International Day of Indigenous People annually during the second decade. The decade’s goal was to further strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous peoples in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development.

In April 2000, the Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution to establish the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that was endorsed by the Economic and Social Council. The forum’s mandate is to discuss indigenous issues related to culture, economic and social development, education, the environment, health and human rights.


Artwork by Rebang Dewan, a Chackma boy from Bangladesh, was chosen as the visual identifier of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It has also been seen on material to promote the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. It features two ears of green leaves facing each other and cradling a globe resembling planet earth. Within the globe is a picture of a handshake (two different hands) in the middle and above the handshake is a landscape background. The handshake and the landscape background are encapsulated by blue at the top and bottom within the globe.

For this occasion, Rebang Dewan’s artwork is often seen together with a pale blue version of the UN logo with the words “We the peoples” written in the middle. The logo is set on a darker blue background. The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material UN events. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, enclosed by olive branches. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map represents people in the world.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People Observance

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Wed Aug 9 1995 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Fri Aug 9 1996 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sat Aug 9 1997 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sun Aug 9 1998 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Mon Aug 9 1999 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Wed Aug 9 2000 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Thu Aug 9 2001 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Fri Aug 9 2002 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sat Aug 9 2003 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Mon Aug 9 2004 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Tue Aug 9 2005 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Wed Aug 9 2006 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Thu Aug 9 2007 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sat Aug 9 2008 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sun Aug 9 2009 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Mon Aug 9 2010 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Tue Aug 9 2011 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Thu Aug 9 2012 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Fri Aug 9 2013 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sat Aug 9 2014 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sun Aug 9 2015 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance

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Courtesy of Michael C. Blumenthal

Rita Miljo established a South African rescue operation for baboons, which she called “nature’s unwanted little people.”


Published: July 31, 2012

  • Rita Miljo, whose devotion to rescuing orphaned, injured and mostly reviled baboons earned her the sobriquet “the Mother Teresa of Baboons,” died on Friday in a fire in her home on her 50-acre preserve in South Africa. She was 81.

Bobby, the first baboon she ever saved, in 1980, also perished in the blaze, as did two other baboons that were in her small apartment at the Center for Animal Rehabilitation and Education, a rescue operation she established in the bush of Limpopo Province about 250 miles northeast of Johannesburg.

The center announced Ms. Miljo’s death. Much of its headquarters was destroyed in the fire.

Shirley McGreal, founder of the International Primate Protection League, said in a statement that baboons are regarded as “vermin” in South Africa, despite their high intelligence and social skills. Baboons have long been shot and killed as a nuisance species. At one time, monetary rewards were offered for handing in a scalp and tail of the animal, and it is still legal to shoot baboons in some circumstances.

Tourism officials say baboons raid cars and frighten tourists, farmers say they attack farm animals, and suburban residents say they get too close to their homes. With its snout, the baboon’s face can seem less charming than the more humanlike one of the chimpanzee.

“Just as Mother Teresa cared for the most persecuted human beings in India, Rita cared for the pariah primates of Africa,” Ms. McGreal said.

Ms. Miljo’s conservation work followed the pattern of Jane Goodall’s with chimpanzees in Tanzania, Dian Fossey’s with gorillas in Rwanda and Biruté Galdikas’s with orangutans in Indonesian Borneo. But unlike those women, Ms. Miljo did not begin her work as a scientific researcher.

Rather, she had the same motivation as people who rescue stray cats. She began by spiriting away a battered young Bobby from a national park in Angola. She saved orphans, including one clinging to the decomposing body of its mother in a garbage dump. Some baboons she found were being held captive so that their feces could be collected for use in native medicines. Others had been used in medical experiments. She called baboons “nature’s unwanted little people.”

The 2011 book “Kalahari Dream,” by Chris Mercer and Beverly Pervan, told how Ms. Miljo had repeatedly been charged with transporting and keeping an animal without a permit. In one courtroom, a prosecutor demanded to know why she wasted her time on “problem animals like baboons.”

She responded, “Who are you to tell God that he should not have created baboons?”

Ms. Miljo had earlier rescued warthogs, porcupines, reptiles and birds as well. But by 1989 she had decided to concentrate on her beloved baboons and create a haven for them on the 50 acres she owned near Kruger National Park in South Africa.

The center’s private preserve is home to more than 400 baboons, according to its Web site. Some arrived as orphans or with injuries, and some wandered by as wild baboons attracted by their own kind. The center says the wild and tame baboons live together peacefully, which some people did not think possible.

The sanctuary was only the first step. Ms. Miljo also nudged her baboons into forming “troops,” as they would in the wild, and released them together in what she called a “walk to freedom.” More than a dozen troops, totaling about 250 baboons, have been released in the last 20 years; Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, witnessed one.

Rita Neumann was born into an upper-middle-class family in 1931 in northeastern Germany. At 8 she joined the Hitler Youth and became one of its youngest local leaders. She liked the sports competition the organization provided, and the opportunity to escape an “overprotective mother,” she told The Washington Post Magazine in 2008.

“Only today, in hindsight, do I understand the total madness we were subjected to,” she said.

Though her ambition was to be a veterinarian, Ms. Miljo said, she was thwarted by a West German policy of giving veterans preferential admissions to universities. She worked in the zoo in Hamburg and moved to South Africa in 1953 with her husband, Lothar Simon, a mining engineer. A decade later, she bought the 50 acres of bush that would become her baboon center.

Ms. Miljo is survived by a brother. In 1972, her husband and 17-year-old daughter were killed in a small-plane crash. A brief second marriage, to Piet Miljo, a South African, ended in divorce.

Ms. Miljo was known to remember the location of each unmarked grave of her baboons. She was to be buried with them.





Published: August 1, 2012

  • Norman Alden, a character actor who played a soda jerk in “Back to the Future,” a cameraman in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood,” and the title role in the cult director Richard C. Sarafian’s first film, “Andy,” died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 87.

Deran Productions

Norman Alden in “Andy,” a drama that was directed by Richard C. Sarafian in 1965.

His death was confirmed by Linda Thieben, his partner of more than 30 years.

Mr. Alden acted in television and film for 50 years, appearing regularly on shows like “The Legend of Wyatt Earp,” “The Untouchables” and “My Three Sons.”

His television career led to parts in films like “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.” He also voiced many cartoon characters, including King Arthur’s foster brother, Sir Kay, in Walt Disney’s “Sword in the Stone,” and Kranix, a robot who narrowly escapes destruction by Unicron, voiced by Orson Welles, in the 1986 animated film “Transformers.”

Mr. Alden’s star turn came in 1965, in the picaresque “Andy.” Andy, the 40-year-old mentally disabled son of Greek immigrants in New York, sets out for a last night of seedy adventures before his parents commit him to an asylum.

“Norman Alden, as the leading character, gropes his clumsy way, giving a throbbing sense of the great, gross energy and the pitiful childishness and inadequacy of the man,” Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times.

Norman Adelberg was born in Fort Worth, Tex., on Sept. 13, 1924. He attended Texas Christian University and served in Europe during World War II before he began acting on the radio and performing stand-up comedy. He also performed in commercials, most notably as Lou the mechanic in AC Delco advertisements.

In addition to his partner, Ms. Thieben, Mr. Alden is survived by a son, Brent, and a daughter, Ashley, from a prior marriage; two stepsons, Randy and Kevin Thieben; a stepdaughter, Sherri Thieben; one grandson; and one step-granddaughter.





Published: August 3, 2012

  • Mihaela Ursuleasa, a Romanian-born pianist renowned for her prodigious technique and often idiosyncratic interpretations, was found dead on Thursday at her home in Vienna. She was 33.

Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times

Mihaela Ursuleasa performing in 2008.

The death was announced on Ms. Ursuleasa’s Web site, The Vienna police told European news services that the cause was apparently a brain aneurysm.

Ms. Ursuleasa, who was performing internationally by the time she was a teenager, was known for her large tone, fleet fingers and eclectic programming, though she was perhaps most closely associated with Romantic composers like Prokofiev, Chopin and Schumann.

The winner of the 1995 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition, Ms. Ursuleasa was heard on some of the world’s most renowned recital stages, among them Wigmore Hall in London and Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall in New York. She appeared as a soloist with orchestras including the Vienna Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Critical response to Ms. Ursuleasa’s work ranged from the effusive to the bewildered, often within a single review. Where some reviewers heard tonal power, others heard unwelcome percussiveness. What some saw as interpretive passion, others viewed as excessive liberty with tempos and rhythm.

A 2008 review by Allan Kozinn in The New York Times, of Ms. Ursuleasa’s performance of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto at the Mostly Mozart Festival, encapsulates her singular approach:

“Ms. Ursuleasa played with a combination of ferocity and clarity that put Beethoven’s already striking contrasts into sharper relief and turned the score into a tense drama,” Mr. Kozinn wrote. “Interpretively she was out on the edge, but it was the kind of high-risk performance that makes the war horses worth revisiting.”

Ms. Ursuleasa was born in Brasov, Romania, on Sept. 27, 1978; her father was a jazz pianist and her mother a singer. Mihaela started piano lessons at 5 under her father’s supervision and began playing in public soon afterward.

Her father died when she was still a girl. Without his moderating influence, she later said, she was pushed harder and harder by her teachers, who urged her to tour heavily and tackle difficult repertory that was beyond her emotional ken — a set of pressures that devolves on many child prodigies.

“I didn’t have time for recreation then,” Ms. Ursuleasa told The St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1997. “I worked at the piano from 8 in the morning until 8 at night.”

When she was about 12, she played for the conductor Claudio Abbado, who arranged for her to study at the Vienna Conservatory. There, with her concert schedule curtailed, she could simply learn, and she did, earning a diploma from the conservatory in 1999.

Ms. Ursuleasa’s survivors include her mother and a daughter.

Her recordings include “Piano & Forte” (2009) and “Romanian Rhapsody,” released last year.

Writing in the classical music magazine American Record Guide, Harold C. Schonberg, a former senior music critic of The New York Times, reviewed Ms. Ursuleasa’s first album in 1996.

The recording, of Beethoven and Mozart concertos with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra under Jesús López-Cobos, was part of Ms. Ursuleasa’s prize for having won the Haskil Competition.

“Well, well. A competition winner who can convey strength without relentless pounding; who has temperament; who has a completely finished technique; who has a wide tonal palette,” Mr. Schonberg wrote, going on to praise Ms. Ursuleasa’s “sparkling finger work and a general feeling of joie de vivre.”

He added, “Here we have a real pianist, and we shall be hearing from her.”





Published: August 1, 2012

  • Gore Vidal, the elegant, acerbic all-around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization, died on Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, where he moved in 2003 after years of living in Ravello, Italy. He was 86.

Bernard Gotfryd/Pictorial Parade—Getty Images

GORE VIDAL in a 1969 portrait. An author, screenwriter and essayist with definite opinions and no inhibitions about sharing them, he took great pleasure in being one of the larger-than-life figures of his time.



Related in Opinion

The cause was complications of pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said.

Mr. Vidal was, at the end of his life, an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed, and he was probably right. Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent. He published some 25 novels, two memoirs and several volumes of stylish, magisterial essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas and screenplays. For a while he was even a contract writer at MGM. And he could always be counted on for a spur-of-the-moment aphorism, put-down or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy.

Perhaps more than any other American writer except Norman Mailer or Truman Capote, Mr. Vidal took great pleasure in being a public figure. He twice ran for office — in 1960, when he was the Democratic Congressional candidate for the 29th District in upstate New York, and in 1982, when he campaigned in California for a seat in the Senate — and though he lost both times, he often conducted himself as a sort of unelected shadow president. He once said, “There is not one human problem that could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”

Mr. Vidal was an occasional actor, appearing in animated form on “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” in the movie version of his own play “The Best Man,” and in the Tim Robbins movie “Bob Roberts,” in which he played an aging, epicene version of himself. He was a more than occasional guest on talk shows, where his poise, wit, good looks and charm made him such a regular that Johnny Carson offered him a spot as a guest host of “The Tonight Show.”

Television was a natural medium for Mr. Vidal, who in person was often as cool and detached as he was in his prose. “Gore is a man without an unconscious,” his friend the Italian writer Italo Calvino once said. Mr. Vidal said of himself: “I’m exactly as I appear. There is no warm, lovable person inside. Beneath my cold exterior, once you break the ice, you find cold water.”

Mr. Vidal loved conspiracy theories of all sorts, especially the ones he imagined himself at the center of, and he was a famous feuder; he engaged in celebrated on-screen wrangles with Mailer, Capote and William F. Buckley Jr. Mr. Vidal did not lightly suffer fools — a category that for him comprised a vast swath of humanity, elected officials particularly — and he was not a sentimentalist or a romantic. “Love is not my bag,” he said.

By the time he was 25, he had already had more than 1,000 sexual encounters with both men and women, he boasted in his memoir “Palimpsest.” Mr. Vidal tended toward what he called “same-sex sex,” but frequently declared that human beings were inherently bisexual, and that labels like gay (a term he disliked) or straight were arbitrary and unhelpful. For 53 years, he had a live-in companion, Howard Austen, a former advertising executive, but the secret of their relationship, he often said, was that they did not sleep together.

Mr. Vidal sometimes claimed to be a populist — in theory, anyway — but he was not convincing as one. Both by temperament and by birth he was an aristocrat.

A Child on the Senate Floor

Eugene Luther Gore Vidal Jr. was born on Oct. 3, 1925, at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where his father, Eugene, had been an All-American football player and a track star and had returned as a flying instructor and assistant football coach. An aviation pioneer, Eugene Vidal Sr. went on to found three airlines, including one that became T.W.A. He was director of the Bureau of Air Commerce under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mr. Vidal’s mother, Nina, was an actress and socialite and the daughter of Thomas Pryor Gore, a Democratic senator from Oklahoma.

Mr. Vidal, who once said he had grown up in “the House of Atreus,” detested his mother, whom he frequently described as a bullying, self-pitying alcoholic. She and Mr. Vidal’s father divorced in 1935, and she married Hugh D. Auchincloss, the stepfather of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis — a connection that Mr. Vidal never tired of bringing up.

After her remarriage, Mr. Vidal lived with his mother at Merrywood, the Auchincloss family estate in Virginia, but his fondest memories were of the years the family spent at his maternal grandfather’s sprawling home in the Rock Creek Park neighborhood of Washington. He loved to read to his grandfather, who was blind, and sometimes accompanied him onto the Senate floor. Mr. Vidal’s lifelong interest in politics began to stir back then, and from his grandfather, an America Firster, he probably also inherited his unwavering isolationist beliefs.

Mr. Vidal attended St. Albans School in Washington, where he lopped off his Christian names and became simply Gore Vidal, which he considered more literary-sounding. Though he shunned sports himself, he formed an intense romantic and sexual friendship — the most important of his life, he later said — with Jimmie Trimble, one of the school’s best athletes.

Trimble was his “ideal brother,” his “other half,” Mr. Vidal said, the only person with whom he ever felt wholeness. Jimmie’s premature death at Iwo Jima in World War II at once sealed off their relationship in a glow of A. E. Housman-like early perfection, and seemingly made it impossible for Mr. Vidal ever to feel the same way about anyone else.

After leaving St. Albans in 1939, Mr. Vidal spent a year at the Los Alamos Ranch School in New Mexico before enrolling at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He contributed stories and poems to the Exeter literary magazine, but he was an indifferent student who excelled mostly at debating. A classmate, the writer John Knowles, later used him as the model for Brinker Hadley, the know-it-all conspiracy theorist in “A Separate Peace,” his Exeter-based novel.

Mr. Vidal graduated from Exeter at 17 — only by cheating on virtually every math exam, he later admitted — and enlisted in the Army, becoming first mate on a freight supply ship in the Aleutian Islands. He began work on “Williwaw,” a novel set on a troopship and published in 1946, while he was an associate editor at the publishing company E. P. Dutton, a job he soon gave up. Written in a pared-down, Hemingway-like style, “Williwaw” (the title is a meteorological term for a sudden wind out of the mountains) won some admiring reviews but gave little clue to the kind of writer Mr. Vidal would become. Neither did his second book, “In a Yellow Wood” (1947), about a brokerage clerk and his wartime Italian mistress. Mr. Vidal later said it was so bad, he couldn’t bear to reread it. He nevertheless became a glamorous young literary figure, pursued by Anaïs Nin and courted by Christopher Isherwood and Tennessee Williams.

In 1948 Mr. Vidal published “The City and the Pillar,” which was dedicated to J. T. (Jimmie Trimble). It is what would now be called a coming-out story, about a handsome, athletic young Virginia man who gradually discovers that he is homosexual. By today’s standards it is tame and discreet, but at the time it caused a scandal and was denounced as corrupt and pornographic. Mr. Vidal later claimed that the literary and critical establishment, The New York Times especially, had blacklisted him because of the book, and he may have been right. He had such trouble getting subsequent novels reviewed that he turned to writing mysteries under the pseudonym Edgar Box and then, for a time, gave up novel-writing altogether. To make a living he concentrated on writing for television, then for the stage and the movies.

Politics Onstage, and for Real

Work was plentiful. He wrote for most of the shows that presented hourlong original dramas in the 1950s, including “Studio One,” “Philco Television Playhouse” and “Goodyear Playhouse.” He became so adept, he could knock off an adaptation in a weekend and an original play in a week or two. He turned “Visit to a Small Planet,” his 1955 television drama about an alien who comes to earth to study the art of war, into a Broadway play. His most successful play was “The Best Man,” about two contenders for the presidential nomination. It ran for 520 performances on Broadway before it, too, became a well-received film, in 1964, with a cast headed by Henry Fonda and a screenplay by Mr. Vidal. It was revived on Broadway in 2000 and is now being revived there again as “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.”

Mr. Vidal’s reputation as a script doctor was such that in 1956 MGM hired him as a contract writer; among other projects he helped rewrite the screenplay of “Ben-Hur,” though he was denied an official credit. He also wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation of his friend Tennessee Williams’s play “Suddenly, Last Summer.”

By the end of the ’50s, though, Mr. Vidal, at last financially secure, had wearied of Hollywood and turned to politics. He had purchased Edgewater, a Greek Revival mansion in Dutchess County, N.Y., and it became his headquarters for his 1960 run for Congress. He was encouraged by Eleanor Roosevelt, a neighbor who had become a friend and adviser.

The 29th Congressional District was a Republican stronghold, and though Mr. Vidal, running as Eugene Gore on a platform that included taxing the wealthy, lost, he received more votes in running for the seat than any Democrat in 50 years. And he never tired of pointing out he did better in the district than the Democratic presidential candidate that year, John F. Kennedy.

Mr. Vidal also returned to writing novels in the ’60s and published three books in fairly quick succession: “Julian” (1964), “Washington, D.C.” (1967) and “Myra Breckinridge” (1968). “Julian,” which some critics still consider Mr. Vidal’s best, was a painstakingly researched historical novel about the fourth-century Roman emperor who tried to convert Christians back to paganism. (Mr. Vidal himself never had much use for religion, Christianity especially, which he once called “intrinsically funny.”) “Washington, D.C.” was a political novel set in the 1940s. “Myra Breckinridge,” Mr. Vidal’s own favorite among his books, was a campy black comedy about a male homosexual who has sexual reassignment surgery. (A 1970 film version, with Raquel Welch and Mae West, proved to be a disaster.)

Perhaps without intending it, Mr. Vidal had set a pattern. In the years to come he found his greatest successes with historical novels, notably what became known as his American Chronicles: “Washington, D.C.,” “Burr” (1973), “1876” (1976), “Lincoln” (1984), “Empire (1987),“Hollywood” (1990) and “The Golden Age” (2000).

He turned out to have a gift for this kind of writing. These novels were learned and scrupulously based on fact, but also witty and contemporary-feeling, full of gossip and shrewd asides. Harold Bloom wrote that Mr. Vidal’s imagination of American politics “is so powerful as to compel awe.” Writing in The Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt said, “Mr. Vidal gives us an interpretation of our early history that says in effect that all the old verities were never much to begin with.”

But Mr. Vidal also persisted in writing books like “Myron” (1974), a sequel to “Myra,” and “Live From Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal” (1992), which were clearly meant as provocations. “Live From Golgotha,” for example, rewrites the Gospels, with Saint Paul as a huckster and pederast and Jesus a buffoon. John Rechy said of it in The Los Angeles Times Book Review, “If God exists and Jesus is his son, then Gore Vidal is going to hell.”

In the opinion of many critics, though, Mr. Vidal’s ultimate reputation is apt to rest less on his novels than on his essays, many of them written for The New York Review of Books. His collection “The Second American Revolution” won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism in 1982. About a later collection, “United States: Essays 1952-1992,” R. W. B. Lewis wrote in The New York Times Book Review that Vidal the essayist was “so good that we cannot do without him,” adding, “He is a treasure of state.”

Mr. Vidal’s essays were literary, resurrecting the works of forgotten writers like Dawn Powell and William Dean Howells, and also political, taking on issues like sexuality and cultural mores. The form suited him ideally: he could be learned, funny, stylish, show-offy and incisive all at once. Even Jason Epstein, Mr. Vidal’s longtime editor at Random House, once admitted that he preferred the essays to the novels, calling Mr. Vidal “an American version of Montaigne.”

“I always thought about Gore that he was not really a novelist,” Mr. Epstein wrote, “that he had too much ego to be a writer of fiction because he couldn’t subordinate himself to other people the way you have to as a novelist.”

Vidal vs. Buckley (and Mailer)

Success did not mellow Mr. Vidal. In 1968, while covering the Democratic National Convention on television, he called William F. Buckley a “crypto-Nazi.” Buckley responded by calling Mr. Vidal a “queer,” and the two were in court for years. In a 1971 essay he compared Norman Mailer to Charles Manson, and a few months later Mailer head-butted him in the green room while the two were waiting to appear on the Dick Cavett show. They then took their quarrel on the air in a memorable exchange that ended with Mr. Cavett’s telling Mailer to take a piece of paper on the table in front of them and “fold it five ways and put it where the moon don’t shine.” In 1975 he sued Truman Capote for libel after Capote wrote that Mr. Vidal had been thrown out of the Kennedy White House. Mr. Vidal won a grudging apology.

Some of his political positions were similarly quarrelsome and provocative. Mr. Vidal was an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and once called Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, and his wife, the journalist Midge Decter, “Israeli fifth columnists.” In the 1990s he wrote sympathetically about Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for the Oklahoma City bombing. And after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he wrote an essay for Vanity Fair arguing that America had brought the attacks upon itself by maintaining imperialist foreign policies. In another essay, for The Independent, he compared the attacks to the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, arguing that both Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush knew of them in advance and exploited them to advance their agendas.

As for literature, it was more or less over, he declared more than once, and he had reached a point where he no longer much cared. He became a sort of connoisseur of decline, in fact. America is “rotting away at a funereal pace,” he told The Times of London in 2009. “We’ll have a military dictatorship pretty soon, on the basis that nobody else can hold everything together.”

In 2003 Mr. Vidal and his companion, Mr. Austen, who was ill, left their cliffside Italian villa La Rondinaia (the Swallow’s Nest) on the Gulf of Salerno and moved to the Hollywood Hills to be closer to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Mr. Austen died that year, and in “Point to Point Navigation,” his second volume of memoirs, Mr. Vidal recalled that Mr. Austen asked from his deathbed, “Didn’t it go by awfully fast?”

“Of course it had,” Mr. Vidal wrote. “We had been too happy and the gods cannot bear the happiness of mortals.” Mr. Austen was buried in Washington in a plot Mr. Vidal had purchased in Rock Creek Cemetery. The gravestone was already inscribed with their names side by side.

Besides his nephew, Burr Steers, Mr. Vidal’s survivors include his sister, Nina Gore Auchincloss Straight.

After Mr. Austen’s death, Mr. Vidal lived alone in declining health himself. He was increasingly troubled by a knee injury he suffered in the war, and used a wheelchair to get around.

In November 2009 he made a rare public appearance to attend the National Book Awards in New York, where he was given a lifetime achievement award. He had evidently not prepared any remarks, and instead delivered a meandering impromptu speech that was sometimes funny and sometimes a little hard to follow. At one point he even seemed to speak fondly of Buckley, his old nemesis. It sounded like a summing up.

“Such fun, such fun,” he said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 3, 2012

An obituary about the author Gore Vidal in some copies on Wednesday included several errors. Mr. Vidal called William F. Buckley Jr. a crypto-Nazi, not a crypto-fascist, in a television appearance during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. While Mr. Vidal frequently joked that Vice President Al Gore was his cousin, genealogists have been unable to confirm that they were related. And according to Mr. Vidal’s memoir “Palimpsest,” he and his longtime live-in companion, Howard Austen, had sex the night they met, but did not sleep together after they began living together. It is not the case that they never had sex.





Published: July 31, 2012

  • R. G. Armstrong Jr., a rough-hewed character actor known for playing sheriffs, outlaws and other macho roles, died on Friday at his home in Studio City, Calif. He was 95.

Everett Collection

R.G. Armstrong in the 1960 film “The Fugitive Kind.”

His death was confirmed by his daughter Robbie Armstrong-Dunham.

Mr. Armstrong’s five-decade career took off with guest spots on virtually all the popular Western television shows of the 1950s and ’60s, including “Have Gun — Will Travel” and “Gunsmoke.”

After meeting the writer and director Sam Peckinpah on the set of his 1960 series “The Westerner,” Mr. Armstrong became a regular in his films, playing an outspoken Christian fundamentalist in “Ride the High Country,” with Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea; a minister in “Major Dundee,” with Charlton Heston in the title role; and a vicious deputy sheriff alongside Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan (in a small role) in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.”

Departing from westerns, Mr. Armstrong performed with James Earl Jones in “The Great White Hope” and with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the alien-thriller “Predator.” He appeared on innumerable non-western television shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “The Andy Griffith Show,” and was a favorite of Warren Beatty’s. Mr. Beatty cast him in the films “Heaven Can Wait,” “Reds” and as Pruneface in “Dick Tracy.”

Robert Golden Armstrong Jr. was born on April 7, 1917, in Birmingham, Ala. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and moved to New York to attend Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio in the mid-1950s. That led him to parts in Elia Kazan’s original production of Tennessee Williams’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in 1955 (as Dr. Baugh) and in other Broadway shows like “Orpheus Descending” and “The Miracle Worker” before heading for Hollywood’s television studios.

Besides his daughter Robbie, Mr. Armstrong, who was married three times, is survived by two other daughters from his first marriage, Laurie Nell and Daryl Armstrong; a son, Wynn; a daughter from an earlier relationship, Betty; and five grandchildren.


Mr. R.G. Armstrong was a very versatile character actor who always made quite an impression on me whenever I saw him performing.

Not mentioned in the article were three of my favourite R.G. Armstrong films:   “Children of the Corn” (1984), theatrical film release; “Devil Dog : Hound of Hell” (1978), TV movie; and “The Beast Within” (1982), theatrical film release.

It was always fun to see him and hear his voice no matter the role he played.

He will be missed.

Rest in peace, Mr. Armstrong.

Rest in peace.

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