The death was confirmed by his manager, Laura Lizer, who declined further comment.
During the course of his career, Mr. Needham said in a speech at the Academy Awards in 2012, he broke 56 bones, including his back twice. He punctured a lung, had a shoulder replaced and knocked out several teeth. He invented several new stunt methods and devices — among them the introduction of air bags for breaking falls, prompted by watching pole-vaulters — as “a way to save myself some trips to the hospital,” he said.
“Hal Needham was a great stunt coordinator, director, and an icon,” Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote on Twitter on Friday. “I’m still grateful he took a chance with me in ‘The Villain,’ ” he said, of the 1979 film that Mr. Needham directed. “I’ll miss him.”
Mr. Needham was born in 1931 and, as he told it at the Academy Awards in 2012, raised “way back in the hills of Arkansas during the Great Depression.” His father was a sharecropper. As a boy, Mr. Needham fished and hunted squirrels with a rifle. He later moved with his family to St. Louis.
After his discharge in the 1950s from the United States Army as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, he began a career that spanned hundreds of movies and television shows across five decades.
In the 1970s, Mr. Needham turned his attention to car stunts, he said in the NPR interview in 2011, and collaborated often with Mr. Reynolds, whom he had met when they both worked in television. “Smokey and the Bandit” was Mr. Needham’s directorial debut in 1977. He went on to direct 19 other movies.
He won a scientific and engineering Oscar in 1986 for the development of a camera car. Later he was given a governor’s award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “You’re looking at the luckiest man alive,” Mr. Needham said in his acceptance speech.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
The cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Lori Chapman. He had been undergoing dialysis treatment for kidney problems for several years, she said.
Mr. Harrison was the son of the English actor Rex Harrison, a star of “My Fair Lady” and “Doctor Dolittle,” and the first of his father’s six wives, Collette Thomas. He initially resisted acting, he said, because he wanted to distance himself from his father’s reputation.
“I always regarded it with awe and trepidation,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 1968. “Because, I suppose, my father is a famous actor.”
Mr. Harrison focused instead on music and skiing, competing on England’s alpine ski teams at the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games and singing folk and calypso songs in nightclubs around Europe. He often performed at the Blue Angel in London, where he was encouraged by a young Paul McCartney.
Mainstream success eluded him, so he moved to the United States in the mid-1960s. His first hit was “A Young Girl,” an English version of Charles Aznavour’s French ballad; it reached No. 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1965. He recorded albums that included Beatles and Bob Dylan songs and appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other television shows.
He was also cast as Mark Slate, a secret-agent sidekick to April Dancer, played by Stefanie Powers, in “The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.,” a spinoff of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” The show was canceled in 1967, but it raised Mr. Harrison’s profile. He went on to perform with the Beach Boys and Sonny and Cher and to appear on shows like “The Mod Squad” and “Mission: Impossible.”
He recorded “The Windmills of Your Mind,” composed by Michel Legrand with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, in 1968. Heard on the soundtrack of the film “The Thomas Crown Affair,” it won the 1968 Oscar for best original song.
The song did not initially make an impression on Mr. Harrison.
“I went to the studio one afternoon and sang it and pretty much forgot about it,” he wrote on his Web site. “I didn’t realize until later what a timeless, beautiful piece Michel Legrand and the Bergmans had written.” Mr. Harrison missed the chance to perform the song at the Academy Awards ceremony because he was in England filming “Take a Girl Like You,” a comedy based on a novel by Kingsley Amis. (José Feliciano sang in his place.)
He said he never tired of the song, and performed it in his final concert, in Black Dog, England, the Saturday night before he died.
Noel John Christopher Harrison was born in London on Jan. 29, 1934. His parents divorced in 1940, and he left school as a teenager to ski in the Swiss Alps.
He lived in Los Angeles during the peak of his career, but left in the early 1970s for a farm in Nova Scotia. While there he hosted “Take Time,” a music show for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
He returned to Los Angeles for the tour of his one-man show, “Adieu, Jacques … ,” about the singer Jacques Brel, before moving back to England. At his death he lived in Ashburton, in southwest England.
Mr. Harrison’s first two marriages, to the former Sara Tufnell and Margaret Harrison, ended in divorce.
In addition to Ms. Chapman, he is survived by two daughters, Cathryn Harrison-Laing and Harriet Harrison-Roger; a son, Simon; and a stepdaughter, Zoe Humphreys, from his first marriage. He is also survived by a son, Will, and a daughter, Chloe Harrison-Bayes, from his second marriage; two half-brothers, Carey Harrison and Richard Butler; and four grandchildren.
BOB GREENE, PIANIST AND JELLY ROLL MORTON DEVOTEE
By BRUCE WEBER
Published: October 24, 2013
- Bob Greene, a pianist who was so besotted by the controlled yet fevered jazz of Jelly Roll Morton that he abandoned a writing career to perform the Jelly Roll canon and spread the Jelly Roll gospel, died on Oct. 13 at his home in Amagansett, N.Y. He was 91.
Bob Greene led a concert of Jelly Roll Morton’s music at Alice Tully Hall in 1974.
The cause was lung cancer, said Diane Fehring Reynolds, a friend.
“If there were such a thing, Greene would hold the Jelly Roll Morton Chair of Music at an Ivy League college,” Whitney Balliett, The New Yorker’s longtime jazz critic, wrote in The Atlantic in 1998.
Such was Mr. Greene’s devotion to Morton, a swaggering, seminal figure in jazz — pianist, bandleader and “the first important jazz composer,” according to The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz — that he viewed his task as not simply to play Morton’s music but also to recreate it, performing and recording the music as Morton himself did.
“He gets inside Morton’s music,” Mr. Balliett wrote.
Morton was born in the late 19th century in New Orleans and grew up in the city’s distinctive musical atmosphere. In his playing and writing he drew from it, fusing ragtime, the blues, spirituals and Latin music from the Caribbean into songs that were contained by compositional form and yet exuded an earthy drive.
In the late 1920s he put together a band known as the Red Hot Peppers and recorded songs with them that melded composition and improvisation, with each of the brass, woodwind and rhythm players getting to show his stuff within the framework of Morton’s writing.
Through the 1970s and ’80s, Mr. Greene toured the country and the world as a Jelly Roll evangelist, bringing Morton’s music to France, Denmark, England and Japan, both as a solo pianist and as a bandleader. He can be heard playing Morton’s music on the soundtrack of Louis Malle’s 1978 film, “Pretty Baby,” about a girl — Brooke Shields in her first role — raised in a New Orleans brothel, circa 1917. “There’s such a vitality to his music,” Mr. Greene told the online arts magazine Joyzine. “Yet it’s not wild — it’s contained by the forms in which Jelly wrote: the limited harmonies, the very formal three-part structure of his songs, the fact that each song could only last about three minutes.” He added, “It can get very hot, yet it never explodes because it’s locked into these restrictions. Within these imposed boundaries, it’s almost Mozartean in its magnificence.”
Mr. Greene was introduced to Morton’s music in the 1940s — Morton died in 1941 — and though he was a serious, self-taught amateur musician, he never planned to be a professional. Rather, he made a living writing documentaries for radio and television. But as he told the story, his career pivoted in June 1968; he was about to join Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign for the presidency when Kennedy was assassinated.
“When Bobby got shot, I realized that the time had come for me to get into music full time,” he told Joyzine. “Certainly if he had lived I wouldn’t have devoted myself to Jelly the way that I have.”
By 1969 he was playing recitals of Morton’s music in New Orleans. In 1973 he introduced his own version of the Red Hot Peppers at Lincoln Center as part of the Newport Jazz Festival in New York. The next year the band returned to Lincoln Center, where, John S. Wilson wrote in The New York Times, it “not only played ‘those little black dots,’ as Mr. Morton always instructed his musicians, but projected the flavor of Mr. Morton’s music — the breaks, the slurs, the accents, the coloring.”
Robert Stern Greenstein was born on Sept. 4, 1922, to Oscar Greenstein, who ran a textile concern, and the former Elsa Stern, and grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His father’s business foundered after the stock market crash in 1929, and the family’s circumstances were considerably reduced for a time, but Mr. Greenstein remade his fortune with a company that made name tags. The father changed the family name sometime after 1939, Ms. Reynolds said.
Mr. Greene graduated from Columbia in 1943 and began writing documentaries for radio and then television, winning Writers Guild awards in 1957 and 1962 for history-based radio scripts. In 1964, writing for Voice of America, the federal government’s broadcast network, he was nominated again. Mr. Greene taught from 1954 to 1962 in the dramatic arts department at Columbia, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in theater arts in 1958. He leaves no immediate survivors.
“If it was once done so perfectly, why do it again?” Mr. Greene once asked aloud, voicing perhaps the most obvious question about his devotion to Jelly Roll Morton. “I can only say: Because there’s beauty there, there’s excitement, there’s love. If that can be transmitted to a live audience, some of the aroma of the original happens again.”