Carline Ray Collection

The International Sweethearts of Rhythm photographed in the 1940s with Carline Ray on guitar, third from left in the second row.


Published: July 27, 2013

  • Carline Ray, a pioneering jazz instrumentalist and vocalist who joined the all-female International Sweethearts of Rhythm in the 1940s, later performed with Erskine Hawkins and Mary Lou Williams and this year released her first recording as a lead vocalist, died on July 18 in Manhattan. She was 88.

Carline Ray Collection

Carline Ray in her first promotional photo.

The cause was complications of a stroke, said her daughter, the jazz singer Catherine Russell.

In an era when female jazz musicians were rare, Ms. Ray was often the only woman in the band in a career that spanned seven decades and multiple instruments and genres, from calypso to choral works.

“She always made a point of saying she wasn’t a female musician,” Ms. Russell recalled. “She was a musician who happened to be female.”

Her mother was proud but also felt a constant need to prove herself in a world dominated by men.

“She would never let anybody help her with her amplifier or her bass,” Ms. Russell said.

Ms. Ray started her career surrounded by female musicians, though, as a member of a later incarnation of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an integrated, all-female group that first formed in the 1930s at a Mississippi school for poor black children.

Ms. Ray had just graduated from Juilliard, in 1946, when she joined the Sweethearts, playing rhythm guitar and singing. A few years later she joined the band led by Mr. Hawkins, singing but also playing rhythm guitar. Later, when she married the bandleader Luis Russell, who had helped organize a group led by Louis Armstrong, she insisted that she continue performing, and she did.

Mr. Russell died, in 1963, when Catherine was 7. Ms. Ray kept playing, taking her daughter to recording sessions and performances. She spent decades as a session musician, playing an electric Fender bass at studios in midtown. She sang classical choral works, including performances of Christmas music conducted by Leonard Bernstein. She sang backup on recordings for Patti Page, Bobby Darrin and other performers.

Ms. Ray often sang and played bass with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, including in its 1971 production of “Mary Lou’s Mass,” by Ms. Williams, the pianist and composer. She also performed with big bands led by Sy Oliver and Skitch Henderson and, when it was under the direction of Mercer Ellington, the Duke Ellington Orchestra. In 1980, she received a grant to study the upright acoustic bass, with Major Holley.

When interest in female performers began increasing in the late 1970s, Ms. Ray became a regular performer at women’s jazz festivals, and later in life she was a mentor to younger female musicians, including the bassists Nicki Parrott and Mimi Jones. She also played in touring and educational groups featuring female musicians, including Jazzberry Jam.

“She wasn’t out there waving the flag saying ‘I’m a woman in jazz,’ ” Sally Placksin, the author of “American Women in Jazz,” said in an interview this week. “She was just always out there playing.”

Carline Ray was born on April 21, 1925, in Manhattan. Her father, Elisha Ray, was a horn player who graduated from Juilliard the year she was born. He had played with James Reese Europe and had offers for more musical work but, seeking steady income for his new family, he took a job with the post office not long after he graduated.

Ms. Ray entered Juilliard at 16 and stayed five years, after changing her major from piano to composition. In 1956 she received a masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music.

In addition to her daughter, Ms. Ray is survived by a sister, Irma Sloan.

Ms. Russell spent several years working with her to choose songs and arrangements for “Vocal Sides,” her mother’s first recording as a lead vocalist.

“Her aim was not to be a front person,” Ms. Russell said. “She used to tell me that she wanted to be a part of something bigger.”





Published: July 27, 2013

  • J. J. Cale, a musician and songwriter whose blues-inflected rock influenced some of the genre’s biggest names and whose songs were recorded by Eric Clapton and Johnny Cash among others, died on Friday in La Jolla, Calif. He was 74.

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

J. J. Cale died on Friday in La Jolla, Calif. Mr. Cale was best known as the writer of “Cocaine” and “After Midnight,” songs made famous by his collaborator, Eric Clapton.

Mr. Cale suffered a heart attack and died at Scripps Memorial Hospital around 8 p.m. on Friday evening, a statement posted on his Web site said.

He is best known as the writer of “Cocaine” and “After Midnight,” songs made famous when they were recorded by his collaborator, Eric Clapton.

A multi-instrumentalist, Mr. Cale often played all of the parts on his albums, also recording and mixing them himself. He is also credited as one of the architects of the 1970s Tulsa sound, a blend of rockabilly, blues, country and rock that came to influence Neil Young and Bryan Ferry, among others. He won a Grammy Award in 2007 for an album with Mr. Clapton.

“Basically, I’m just a guitar player that figured out I wasn’t ever gonna be able to buy dinner with my guitar playing,” Mr. Cale told an interviewer for his official biography. “So I got into songwriting, which is a little more profitable business.”

John Weldon Cale was born in Oklahoma in 1938. He recorded “After Midnight” in the mid-1960s, according to the biography, but had retreated to his native Tulsa and “given up on the business part of the record business” by the time Mr. Clapton covered it in 1970. He heard it on the radio that year, he told NPR, “and I went, ‘Oh, boy, I’m a songwriter now. I’m not an engineer or an elevator operator.’ ”

Mr. Cale released an album, “Naturally,” in 1972, to capitalize on that success, and continued to tour and release new music until 2009. But he declined to put his image on any of his covers and kept his vocals low amid the instruments on his recordings. He developed a reputation as a private figure and a musician’s musician while his songs were covered by Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Band, Deep Purple and Tom Petty, among others.

“I’d like to have the fortune,” he said in his biography, “but I don’t care too much about the fame.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 27, 2013

An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of one of the musicians who was influenced by the Tulsa sound. He is Bryan Ferry, not Brian.




Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos

Steve Berrios performing with the Fort Apache Band in 2003.


Published: July 27, 2013

  • Steve Berrios, a master percussionist whose command of jazz, Latin and Caribbean folk music traditions figured prominently in the sophisticated rhythmic drive behind a wide range of jazz and Latin-jazz fusion bands, died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 68.

Todd Barkan, a record producer and friend, confirmed the death, but no cause was announced.

Mr. Berrios was a fixture of the New York Latin jazz scene for 40 years, playing in groups led by Max Roach, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente and Grover Washington Jr. He was a founding member of the Fort Apache Band, a popular Latin jazz fusion ensemble led by Jerry Gonzalez.

Mr. Berrios grew up in Upper Manhattan with neighbors like Mr. Puente, Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria, all icons of Latin music and friends of his father, Steven Berrios, who was a professional drummer in dance bands.

Starting his professional career at 16, the younger Mr. Berrios credited a host of mentors, including his father, with helping him develop both an authoritative style — described by fellow percussionist Eddie Bobe in 2002 as “reigning behind the beat” — and a sure-footed fluidity in moving from one musical idiom to another, matching his fluency in both English and Spanish.

He began touring and recording at 19 in a band led by Mr. Santamaria, a Cuban-born conga player considered the best of his generation. He learned to play batá sacred drums — hourglass shaped instruments used in the Afro-Caribbean religion called Santería — from Julito Collazo, a prominent drummer in the band who later left music for a religious life.

Mr. Berrios played conga, djembe, cowbells, marimba, timpani and glockenspiel in Dizzy Gillespie’s band on a good-will tour of Cuba in the 1980s.

From the drummer Max Roach, he said, he learned leadership. “I don’t care who the leader of the band is,” Mr. Berrios said in a 2007 interview with the online journal All About Jazz. “Once the tune is counted off, the drummer is the leader of the band. The drummer controls the dynamics, the tempo, the feel of the music, everything.”

Mr. Berrios recorded more than a dozen albums as a member of the Fort Apache Band, including “The River Is Deep,” (1982) “Obatalà,” (1988) “Rumba Para Monk,” (1988) “Earthdance,” (1990) and “Moliendo Café” (1991).

“And Then Some!” (1997), one of the few albums he recorded at the head of his own group, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Performance.

Mr. Berrios was born in Manhattan on Feb. 24, 1945, soon after his parents arrived in New York from Puerto Rico. He started learning to play the trumpet in junior high, but found his father’s drum set a better fit.

He is survived by four daughters, Aisha Jafar, and Merida, Cindy and Angela Barrios; and a son, Steve.

In recent interviews, he reflected on being little known outside the world of jazz musicians and aficionados despite a long career.

His personal semi-obscurity bothered him less, he said, than the general public disregard for drummers as artists.

“Most people look at the drummer as an ignorant timekeeper that doesn’t know anything about music or forms,” he said in the 2007 interview. “But a drummer has to be as intelligent as the horn players. He has to know the vernacular, the history of the music.” A horn player can take a break. A drummer never leaves. “We’re like royalty,” he said.




George Tames/The New York Times

Sex researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson interviewed a couple at the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation in St. Louis in 1969.


Published: July 25, 2013

  • Virginia E. Johnson, a writer, researcher and sex therapist who with her longtime collaborator, William H. Masters, helped make the frank discussion of sex in postwar America possible if not downright acceptable, died on Wednesday in St. Louis. She was 88.

Her son, Scott Johnson, confirmed the death.

Dr. Masters was a gynecologist on the faculty of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis when he began his research into human sexuality in the mid-1950s. Ms. Johnson, who joined him in 1957 after answering an advertisement for an assistant, worked alongside him for more than three decades. She was variously his research associate, wife and former wife.

The collaborators burst into public consciousness with their first book, a clinical tome titled “Human Sexual Response.” All about sensation, it created precisely that when it was published by Little, Brown in 1966. Although Masters and Johnson deliberately wrote the book in dry, clinical language to pre-empt mass titillation, their subject — the physiology of sex — was unheard-of in its day.

The book made Masters and Johnson an institution in American popular culture. They were interviewed widely in the news media, wrote for popular magazines including Playboy and Redbook, and on more than one occasion caused heated public controversy. Their work was discussed in rapt half-whispers at suburban cocktail parties and even inspired a band, Human Sexual Response, a Boston-based New Wave group of the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Their other books, also published by Little, Brown, include “Human Sexual Inadequacy” (1970); “The Pleasure Bond: A New Look at Sexuality and Commitment” (1974, with Robert J. Levin); “Human Sexuality” (1982, with Robert C. Kolodny); and “Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving” (1986, with Dr. Kolodny).

The couple’s work was therapeutic as well as scientific. The medical establishment had long treated sexual dysfunctions psychoanalytically, but Masters and Johnson took a more physical approach. They were credited with helping thousands of men with impotence and premature ejaculation, and thousands of women with difficulty in achieving orgasm, among other problems. In doing so, they helped establish the field of modern sex therapy, training a generation of therapists throughout the country.

The couple’s research corrected many longstanding scientific misconceptions and overturned age-old cultural taboos. Much as the biologist Alfred C. Kinsey had paved the way for Masters and Johnson with his reports on human sexuality in the 1940s and early ’50s, Masters and Johnson in turn helped make possible the mainstream careers of later authorities like Alex Comfort, the author of “The Joy of Sex” (1972), and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

It was an index of just how much their work had been accepted, Masters and Johnson told The Washington Post in 1978, that Johnny Carson had not made a single joke about them in the previous two years.

More than any investigator before them, Masters and Johnson moved sex out of the bedroom and into the laboratory, where it could be observed, measured, recorded, quantified and compared. While Kinsey had relied on interviews and questionnaires to elicit accounts of his subjects’ sexual habits, Masters and Johnson gathered direct physiological data on what happens to the human body during sex, from arousal to orgasm.

Working with an initial group of 694 volunteers — 382 men and 312 women — Masters and Johnson hooked subjects up to instruments that recorded heart rate, brain activity and metabolism as they copulated or masturbated. Using a tiny camera placed in an artificial phallus, they were able to capture direct evidence, previously unseen, of what happens inside the vagina during female sexual arousal.

Among their findings were these:

■ Contrary to popular belief, there was absolutely no difference between a vaginal orgasm (the good kind, according to Freud) and a clitoral orgasm (the bad kind).

■ The length of a man’s penis has no bearing on his ability to satisfy his partner.

■ For elderly people, a group long considered sexually demure if not altogether chaste, vigorous sexual activity was not only possible but normal.

Ms. Johnson was often described in news articles as a psychologist, although in fact she never finished college. When Dr. Masters hired her, she was a divorced mother of two who had been a country singer, psychology student and writer. But as he often said, Ms. Johnson was precisely what he was looking for: an intelligent, mature woman who could help put his female subjects at ease.

Mary Virginia Eshelman was born in Springfield, Mo., on Feb. 11, 1925. An accomplished pianist and mezzo-soprano as a young woman, she performed country music under the name Virginia Gibson on a Springfield radio station, KWTO. She studied at Drury College in Springfield and the Kansas City Conservatory of Music and was later a business writer for The St. Louis Daily Record.

As Ms. Johnson said in interviews, she was raised to believe that a woman’s goal was marriage, and she took the injunction to heart. When she was very young, she married a Missouri politician; the marriage lasted two days. She later wed a lawyer many years her senior; that marriage also ended in divorce. In 1950, she married George Johnson, a bandleader, with whom she had two children. The couple were divorced in 1956.

Besides her son, Scott, Ms. Johnson’s survivors include a daughter, Lisa Young, and two grandchildren.

At their organization in St. Louis — originally known as the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation — Ms. Johnson was mainly responsible for administration while Dr. Masters oversaw the science. In 1978, the organization was renamed the Masters & Johnson Institute, with Ms. Johnson as a co-director.

Although many reviewers praised their work over the years, it was not always well received. Their book “Homosexuality in Perspective” (1979) was criticized by both opponents and proponents of gay rights. Opponents condemned the book for its assertion that gay men and lesbians were just as entitled as straight people to have their sexual problems treated. Proponents were angered because the range of treatments Masters and Johnson provided included therapy to “cure” gay people who said they wanted to be straight.

The couple’s most controversial book was “Crisis: Heterosexual Behavior in the Age of AIDS” (Grove Press, 1988), written with Dr. Kolodny. It argued that the virus that causes AIDS was “now running rampant in the heterosexual community” and would continue attacking the straight population “at a frightening pace.” It also suggested that the virus could be contracted through casual contact with things like contaminated contact lenses or food prepared by an infected restaurant worker.

The book touched off an uproar. The authors were widely criticized for its basic premise and alarmist language. They were also taken to task for not having first submitted their findings for peer review, the custom for scientific literature. C. Everett Koop, then the surgeon general, publicly called the book “irresponsible” and accused the authors of using “scare tactics.” In interviews, the authors defended their conclusions.

For much of their 35-year collaboration, Dr. Masters’s and Ms. Johnson’s personal lives were intertwined. In 1971, they were married in a private ceremony. (Dr. Masters had been married once before.) They divorced amicably in 1993, citing the inability to reconcile his relentless workaholism with her more sociable temperament.

Dr. Masters, who later married again, closed the institute in 1994. He died in 2001. In the late 1990s, Ms. Johnson started and ran the Virginia Johnson Masters Learning Center, in Creve Coeur, Mo., near St. Louis; the center provided audiocassettes and literature about overcoming sexual dysfunctions.

During their marriage, Dr. Masters and Ms. Johnson were often asked what helped keep things harmonious between them. Their reply was simple: there was one subject, they said, that they almost never discussed at home.

The subject was politics.

 This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 27, 2013

Because of an editing error, an obituary on Friday about Virginia E. Johnson, who collaborated with Dr. William H. Masters on pioneering research into sexual behavior, omitted her survivors. They are her son, Scott Johnson; her daughter, Lisa Young; and two grandchildren. The obituary also misstated the year their organization, the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation, in St. Louis, was renamed the Masters & Johnson Institute. It was in 1978, not 1973.





Published: July 26, 2013

  • George P. Mitchell, the son of a Greek goatherd who capped a career as one of the most prominent independent oilmen in the United States by unlocking immense natural gas and petroleum resources trapped in shale rock formations, died on Friday in Galveston, Tex. He was 94.

James Estrin/The New York Times

On a hunch, Mr. Mitchell began drilling shale rock formations in the Texas dirt fields where he had long pumped oil and gas.

His family confirmed the death.

Mr. Mitchell’s role in championing new drilling and production techniques like hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is credited with creating an unexpected natural gas boom in the United States. In a letter to President Obama last year, Daniel Yergin, the energy scholar and author, proposed that Mr. Mitchell be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“It is because of him that we can talk seriously about ‘energy independence,’ ” he said. (Mr. Mitchell did not receive the award.)

Mr. Mitchell combined academic training as a petroleum engineer and geologist with a gambler’s cunning to become an influential businessman worth $2 billion. He was a petroleum industry spokesman, then a persistent voice for “sustainable,” or environmentally responsible, economic growth. On 27,000 piney acres north of Houston, he built a town called The Woodlands partly to demonstrate his ideas.

The most significant chapter in his life came last. In the 1980s and ’90s, when many energy analysts foresaw only irreversible declines in hydrocarbon supplies, Mr. Mitchell got busy poking holes in Texas dirt on the hunch that they were wrong. Marshaling mostly existing technologies, he began fracturing shale rock formations in fields where he had long pumped oil and gas at shallower depths.

After 17 years of trying, Mr. Mitchell finally hit pay dirt with gushers of gas in 1998. The flow was so prodigious that a competitor thought that the announcement was a practical joke. The $6 million that Mr. Mitchell had put into the project was “surely the best development money in the history of gas,” The Economist magazine said.

The success enabled him to sell his company, the Mitchell Energy and Development Corporation, to the Devon Energy Corporation for $3.5 billion in 2001. Included in the sale were the results of years of drilling more than 10,000 wells, many of which still yielded hydrocarbons.

Fracking uses water and chemical injections to force more oil from reservoirs. Both the Gas Technology Institute, a nonprofit research organization, and the federal Energy Department worked with Mr. Mitchell, giving him technical help and some financing. He also received federal tax credits.

Techniques for hydraulic fracturing vary, but Mr. Mitchell’s involved drilling straight down, then making a 90-degree turn thousands of feet underground to penetrate shale formations horizontally. A high-pressure mix of chemical- and sand-laced water was then injected, releasing trapped gas.

Fracking and other unconventional techniques have doubled North American natural gas reserves to three quadrillion cubic feet — the rough equivalent of 500 million barrels of oil, or almost double Saudi Arabia’s crude inventory. The increase came after four decades of declines. Gas is also being economically produced in northern states like New York, which had been considered barren of commercial hydrocarbons.

The same techniques worked for oil extraction. The Oil and Gas Journal reported this April that a well that would have produced 70 barrels a day using conventional drilling can produce 700 with fracking. North Dakota’s oil boom is one result.

Environmentalists and landowners worry that the new techniques will pollute groundwater and cause other environmental problems, particularly as they are deployed in virgin territories. Industry promises that good engineering practices will curb abuses, and some independent studies support that view.

“We can frack safely if we frack sensibly,” Mr. Mitchell and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York wrote last year in an op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Mitchell’s roots reached back to Greece, where his father, Savvas Paraskevopoulos, tended goats before immigrating to the United States in 1901, arriving at Ellis Island at the age of 20. He worked for railroads, and gradually moved west. When a paymaster got tired of writing his long name and threatened to fire him, Mr. Paraskevopoulos took the paymaster’s name, Mike Mitchell.

Mike Mitchell settled in Galveston, where he ran a succession of shoe-shining and pressing shops. When he saw the picture of a beautiful woman in a local Greek newspaper, he headed for Florida, where she had settled, according to family lore. He persuaded her to abandon her fiancé and marry him. They lived above the shoeshine shop.

George Phydias Mitchell was born in Galveston on May 21, 1919. His mother died when he was 13, and he finished high school at 16. No college would accept him at that age so he went to another high school for a year and brushed up on math. At Texas A&M University, he scrambled for tuition money until he started selling gold-embossed stationery to students lonesome for sweethearts back home. He finished first in his class in petroleum engineering and was captain of the tennis team.

He worked for Amoco in the oil fields of Texas and Louisiana, before joining the Army Corps of Engineers and overseeing construction projects. After his discharge, he started an oil company with partners, including his brother Johnny, who strolled Houston in jungle shorts and a pith helmet. The brothers did many of their early deals at a drugstore counter.

When a Chicago bookie offered the fledgling company a deal for an area north of Fort Worth known as “the wildcatters’ graveyard,” they bit. They quickly drilled 13 successful wells, and bet everything they had to expand their holdings in the area to 300,000 acres. That became the backbone of a company that hit oil or gas on 35 to 40 percent of the 10,000 wells it drilled.

In the 1960s, Mr. Mitchell, looking to diversify, bought 66,000 acres of mostly undeveloped real estate within a 50-mile radius of Houston. In 1974 he created The Woodlands, a 27,000-acre forested development 27 miles north of Houston, helped by a $50 million loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than 100,000 people live there today. The Exxon Mobil corporation is building a 385-acre campus for 10,000 employees there.

Partly motivated by a desire to solve urban problems, Mr. Mitchell visited the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and the Watts section of Los Angeles when planning the project. In 1997, he sold Mitchell Energy’s stake in The Woodlands for $543 million. He said in 2001 that it had not achieved the ethnic mix for which he hoped, but recommended that it be annexed by Houston to increase diversity.

In his early 20s, Mr. Mitchell met two twin sisters, Cynthia and Pamela Woods. He first dated Pamela but married Cynthia, with whom he created the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation. It has given more than $400 million to a variety of causes. Mrs. Mitchell died in 2009.

Mr. Mitchell is survived by his sister, Maria Mitchell Ballantyne; three daughters, Pamela Maguire, Meredith Dreiss and Sheridan Lorenz; seven sons, Scott, Mark, Kent, Greg, Kirk, Todd and Grant; 23 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. His wife’s twin sister also survives him.




Richard Perry/The New York Times

Dennis Farina at a “Law & Order” shoot in Times Square.


Published: July 23, 2013

  • Dennis Farina, who spent 20 years as a police officer in Chicago before he began patrolling Hollywood as a character actor, starring as a detective on the television shows “Law & Order” and “Crime Story” and sometimes crossing into crime, as he did in the movie “Get Shorty,” died on Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 69.


Mr. Farina as Lt. Mike Torello, with Darlanne Fluegel, in “Crime Story.’

His publicist, Lori De Waal, announced the death. She said he had recently had a blood clot in his lung.

Mr. Farina eventually had a longer career as an actor than he did in law enforcement, infusing dozens of roles with world-weary credibility and a convincing nexus of nose and mustache.

He had been working as a detective in a special burglary unit in Chicago when a mutual friend introduced him to the director Michael Mann, who was making his first feature film, “Thief.” Mr. Farina was initially a consultant for the movie before being given a small role as a crime boss’s enforcer. The film, which starred James Caan, was released in 1981.

For several years afterward, Mr. Farina juggled his police job with local theater roles and appearances in movies and television shows. He was often cast by Mr. Mann, including in several episodes of his hit show “Miami Vice.”

Mr. Farina quit police work after Mr. Mann cast him in 1986 in the NBC series “Crime Story” as Lt. Mike Torello, a detective who pursues a Chicago mobster to Las Vegas. “Crime Story” was well regarded by critics but lasted just two seasons.

Mr. Farina’s work in “Crime Story” led to a role in the 1986 film “Manhunter,” which Mr. Mann also directed. In 1988 Mr. Farina appeared in the film “Midnight Run” and in 1998 in Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic, “Saving Private Ryan.”

One of his most notable characters was the mobster Ray (Bones) Barboni in the 1995 film “Get Shorty,” based on the novel by Elmore Leonard. The movie, which also starred John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo and Danny DeVito, was a critical and commercial success; Janet Maslin, writing in The New York Times, called Mr. Farina’s work “a funny deadpan performance.”

The quality of roles he accepted declined for a time after “Get Shorty” — he appeared in a short-lived sitcom on NBC, “In-Laws,” and in several disappointing films, including “Stealing Harvard” — but his fortunes improved in 2004, when he was cast as the dapper detective Joe Fontana on “Law & Order.”

In a radio interview several years ago, Mr. Farina said his character on that show was “firm but fair” and “took advantage of every inch that he could, and if that didn’t work sometimes maybe he had to stretch things a little.”

Mr. Farina said he was honored to be on the show, one of the longest-running in television history, but was also amused, as a former detective, by the increasing number of programs that emphasized the roles of scientists in solving crimes.

“While forensics plays a huge part in law enforcement nowadays, you still need the foot soldiers,” he told The Times in 2004. “You still need the guy who can knock on the door, you still need the guy who can write down the license plate numbers.”

In 2012, Mr. Farina appeared on the short-lived HBO series “Luck” as a henchman to a horse-racing gambler played by Dustin Hoffman. The show, which had its premiere in 2012, ceased filming in March after three horses died during production.

He most recently appeared on the Fox comedy “New Girl” and was in two movies tentatively scheduled for release this year, “Authors Anonymous” and “Lucky Stiff.”

Mr. Farina was born on Feb. 29, 1944, in Chicago. His survivors include his longtime companion, Marianne Cahill; three sons, Dennis Jr., Michael and Joseph, and six grandchildren. His first marriage ended in divorce.

Even after Mr. Farina left the Chicago Police Department in the mid-1980s, he continued to live in his hometown, and the characters he played were often from Chicago even if a show or movie was set elsewhere. The Chicago police superintendent, Garry F. McCarthy, said in a statement on Monday that Mr. Farina was “a true-blue Chicago character” who “never forgot where he came from.”

Mr. Farina said as much himself.

“My personality was formed by Chicago,” he told Cigar Aficionado magazine in 1999. “It’s very American, very straightforward. If you can’t find it, or make it there, you won’t make it anywhere. It’s a very honest place.”





July 23, 2013 8:22PM


Willie Louis was a witness for the prosecution in the Emmett Till case. He was known as Wiile Reed at the time of the trial.   |  University of Memphis Library photo

Article Extras

Updated: July 24, 2013 2:24AM

Willie Louis heard Emmett Till scream as he was viciously beaten in 1955.

And Mr. Louis bravely testified in court against two white men — telling the jury of the “hollering” and “licks” he heard — despite the danger his testimony posed in the segregated South.

Mr. Louis, who went by the name Willie Reed before moving to Chicago after the historic trial in Mississippi, died July 18 at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, his wife said.  Mr. Louis, a longtime Englewood resident, was 76.

“What stood out, and what stands out to me about Willie the most, is his courage,” said Emmett Till’s cousin, the Rev. Wheeler Parker, 74, who had traveled to Mississippi with Emmett Till. “He was nothing but a godsend.”

Mike Small, a teacher who has studied the landmark case, called Mr. Louis “one of the unsung civil rights heroes in Chicago.”

Emmett Till was 14 years old when he was murdered after whistling at a white woman outside a grocery store in Mississippi.

The youth was kidnapped  and taken to a tool shed.

It was near there that Mr. Louis, then 18, saw  the boy in a truck with several other men. Mr. Louis also heard a beating coming from inside that tool shed. The truck had also been parked in front of the shed.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” nearly a decade ago, Mr. Louis said, “I heard the screaming, beating, the screaming and beating.”

Mr. Louis was also approached by one of the accused killers, J.W. Milam, who carried with him a pistol, and asked if he’d heard anything. Mr. Louis told him he hadn’t seen anything, he told “60 Minutes.”

But Mr. Louis couldn’t keep secret what he saw, becoming a key witness in the trial.  Despite his testimony, the all-white jury acquitted Milam and co-defendant Roy Bryant.  The murder and acquittal were among the sparks that ignited the civil rights movement.

“I couldn’t have walked away from that like that because Emmett was 14, probably never been to Mississippi in his life and had come to visit his grandfather, and they killed him. That’s not right,” he said in the interview.

The trial took a toll on Mr. Louis. The Greenwood. Miss., native was whisked away after the trial and came to Chicago where he suffered a nervous breakdown, his wife, Juliet Louis, 68, said. Mr. Louis also changed his name to find anonymity.

Mr. Louis worked at Jackson Park Hospital as a surgical orderly for nearly 50 years. That’s where he met his wife.

The pair were working in the intensive care unit at the hospital and Mr. Louis sweet-talked the nurse’s aide.

“He said ‘Hey there. Why don’t you come over here and give me a kiss?’” Juliet Louis said. “I went over there and kissed him on his jaw.”

The couple married in 1976. It was nearly eight years later that Juliet Louis found out about her husband’s involvement in the Emmett Till case.

“He never really got over that,” Juliet Louis said. That was something that really bothered him, and he was keeping it in him.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Louis is survived by his step-son, Sollie McKinnon; seven grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

Services will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at New Commandment Church of God in Christ, 1742 W. 63rd St.


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