Arizona State Rep. John Kavanagh, a Republican from the Scottsdale area, had conservatives chortling with one joke after another about racial profiling, “rounding up Hispanics” and much more. For good measure, he mocked the controversy around SB 1062, the so-called religious freedom bill, taking a shot at Muslims in the process. And he mocked the federal monitor appointed to oversee Sheriff Arpaio’s operations after a judge determined that his department engaged in racial profiling and illegal detentions of Latinos.
It’s not uncommon for roasters to push boundaries. People joke about things that might otherwise be off-limits – sex, old age and a person’s personality and appearance. This was different.
Kavanagh, who made headlines last year for trying to criminalize bathroom use by transgender people, used Latinos as a punch line in one racist joke after another, and the crowd lapped it up. The jokes and laughter, caught in an unguarded moment, reveal why conservatives have such a difficult time connecting with Latinos – there is a fundamental lack of respect. Watch
Early in his tour de force monologue, Kavanagh riffed, “It’s okay. I’m not the federal monitor. How many Hispanics did you pull over on the way over here, Arpaio, huh?” The crowd roared.
Then he pivoted to an immigration joke, “Sheriff Joe is the kind of guy that you gotta love. As long as you have papers.”
Soon he was making light of the controversy around the “religious freedom” bill SB 1062, which would allow businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples. Kavanagh, who supports the bill, dismissed the criticism with a joke at the expense of Muslims and Arpaio:
Now a lot of people claim that SB 1062 is gonna cause discrimination based upon religion in Arizona.
And I scoffed at that until tonight. When a Muslim waiter serving up here walked up to Sheriff Joe, wouldn’t give him his dinner ’cause he said ‘I don’t serve swine.’
The crowd reacted with some shock, but not about the Muslim remark. Arpaio covered his face with his napkin. Kavanagh quipped that it “wasn’t quite a burka.”
Further along, Kavanagh made what could have just been a funny joke about Arpaio’s advanced age: “Sheriff Joe served in the Spanish-American War.” But he couldn’t resist taking it in a racist direction and making light of the racial profiling and unjustified detentions carried out by Arpaio’s department:
Oh, Korea? See, all these years I figured he was rounding up Hispanics because he had a grudge from the Spanish-American War.
So if you were in the Korean War, how come you’re not rounding up Asians?
And he just kept at it, saying that when he goes out to eat with Arpaio, “most of the waitstaff and cooks dive out the back window.” “And when they don’t, I never know what the hell’s in my food,” he continued.
Later in his routine, Kavanagh dismissed the federal monitor overseeing Arpaio as “federal overreach” resulting from a “kangaroo court.” He said it was like “getting a detention in high school.”
He seemed to strike a nerve when he directly asked the sheriff, “Is the federal monitor still gonna let you do them sweeps?” “I’ll respond to you when you get done, that’s enough,” Arpaio responded dryly after a long pause. He then hinted that Kavanagh should wrap things up.
But Kavanagh got a show of support from the audience to continue and proceeded to joke about changes that the federal monitor would enact. “Just to show you how unreasonable the federal monitor is,” they’re demanding that “when Sheriff Joe sends his new deputies to the academy, he will no longer just train them to do the Miranda warning in Spanish, he will have to teach it in English too.” And, he continued, “the sign over the booking intake door in the jail will have to have ‘welcome’ and just not ‘bienvenido.”
“And with that, adios,” Kavanagh concluded. Adios indeed. Conservatives can say goodbye to a growing voting bloc if they, like Kavanagh and Arpaio, continue to dehumanize immigrants and treat Latinos like second-class citizens.
The United Nations’ (UN) International Mother Language Day annually celebrates language diversity and variety worldwide on February 21. It also remembers events such as the killing of four students on February 21, 1952, because they campaigned to officially use their mother language, Bengali, in Bangladesh.
The fight for language diversity has a history, especially in countries such as Bangladesh.
On International Mother Language Day the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN agencies participate in events that promote linguistic and cultural diversity. They also encourage people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one language. Governments and non-governmental organizations may use the day to announce policies to encourage language learning and support.
In Bangladesh, February 21 is the anniversary of a pivotal day in the country’s history. People lay flowers at a Shaheed Minar (martyr’s monument). They also: purchase glass bangles for themselves or female relatives; eat a festive meal and organize parties; and award prizes or host literary competitions. It is a time to celebrate Bangladesh’s culture and the Bengali language.
The Linguapax Institute, in Barcelona, Spain, aims to preserve and promote linguistic diversity globally. The institute presents the Linguapax Prize on International Mother Language Day each year. The prize is for those who have made outstanding work in linguistic diversity or multilingual education.
International Mother Language Day is a public holiday in Bangladesh, where it is also known as Shohid Dibôsh, or Shaheed Day. It is a global observance but not a public holiday in other parts of the world.
At the partition of India in 1947, the Bengal province was divided according to the predominant religions of the inhabitants. The western part became part of India and the eastern part became a province of Pakistan known as East Bengal and later East Pakistan. However, there was economic, cultural and lingual friction between East and West Pakistan.
These tensions were apparent in 1948 when Pakistan’s government declared that Urdu was the sole national language. This sparked protests amongst the Bengali-speaking majority in East Pakistan. The government outlawed the protests but on February 21, 1952, students at the University of Dhaka and other activists organized a protest. Later that day, the police opened fire at the demonstrators and killed four students. These students’ deaths in fighting for the right to use their mother language are now remembered on International Mother Language Day.
The unrest continued as Bengali speakers campaigned for the right to use their mother language. Bengali became an official language in Pakistan on February 29, 1956. Following the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh became an independent country with Bengali as its official language.
On November 17, 1999, UNESCO proclaimed February 21 to be International Mother Language Day and it was first observed on February 21, 2000. Each year the celebrations around International Mother Language Day concentrate on a particular theme.
The Shaheed Minar (martyr’s monument) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, pays homage to the four demonstrators killed in 1952. There have been three versions of the monument. The first version was built on February 22-23 in 1952 but the police and army destroyed it within a few days. Construction on the second version started in November 1957, but the introduction of martial law stopped construction work and it was destroyed during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
The third version of the Shaheed Minar was built to similar plans as the second version. It consists of four standing marble frames and a larger double marble frame with a slanted top portion. The frames are constructed from marble and stand on a stage, which is raised about four meters (14 feet) above the ground. The four frames represent the four men who died on February 21, 1952, and the double frame represents their mothers and country. Replicas of the Shaheed Minar have been constructed worldwide where people from Bangladesh have settled, particularly in London and Oldham in the United Kingdom.
An International Mother Language Day monument was erected at Ashfield Park in Sydney, Australia, on February 19, 2006. It consists of a slab of slate mounted vertically on a raised platform. There are stylized images of the Shaheed Minar and the globe on the face of the stone. There are also the words “we will remember the martyrs of 21st February” in English and Bengali and words in five alphabets to represent mother languages on five continents where people live.
The United Nations’ (UN) World Day of Social Justice is annually observed on February 20 to encourage people to look at how social justice affects poverty eradication. It also focuses on the goal of achieving full employment and support for social integration.
Many organizations, including the UN and the International Labour Office, make statements on the importance of social justice for people. Many organizations also present plans for greater social justice by tackling poverty, social and economic exclusion and unemployment. Trade unions and campaign groups are invited to call on their members and supporters to mark the day. The Russian General Confederation of Trade Unions declared that the common slogan would be “Social Justice and Decent Life for All!”.
Schools, colleges and universities may prepare special activities for the day or plan a week of events around a theme related to poverty, social and economic exclusion or unemployment. Different media, including radio and television stations, newspapers and Internet sites, may give attention to the issues around the World Day of Social Justice.
It is hoped that particular coverage is given to the links between the illicit trade in diamonds and armed conflicts, particularly in Africa, and the importance of the International Criminal Court. This is an independent court that conducts trials of people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The World Day of Social Justice is a global observance and not a public holiday.
The World Summit for Social Development was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1995 and resulted in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. At this summit, more than 100 political leaders pledged to make the conquest of poverty and full employment, as well as stable, safe and just societies, their overriding objectives. They also agreed on the need to put people at the center of development plans.
Nearly 10 years later, the UN’s member states reviewed the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action when they gathered at a session of the Commission for Social Development in New York in February 2005. They also agreed to commit to advance social development. On November 26, 2007, the UN General Assembly named February 20 as the annual World Day of Social Justice. The day was scheduled to be first observed in 2009.
Terry Adkins, a conceptual artist whose work married the quicksilver evanescence of music to the solid permanence of sculpture, died on Feb. 8 at his home in Brooklyn. He was 60.
The cause was heart failure, his dealer Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn said.
A sculptor and saxophonist, Mr. Adkins was at his death a professor of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. His genre-blurring pieces, which might combine visual art, spoken-word performance, video and live music in a single installation, had lately made him “a newly minted breakaway star” on the international art scene, as The New York Times described him in December.
Mr. Adkins’s work — cerebral yet viscerally evocative, unabashedly Modernist yet demonstrably rooted in African traditions — has been exhibited at museums and galleries worldwide, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
His art is in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington; the Studio Museum in Harlem; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the Tate Modern in London.
His work will be shown this year as part of the Whitney Biennial, which runs from March 7 to May 25 at the museum.
“Terry always saw object and sound and movement and words and images all as the material for his art,” Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, said in an interview on Friday. “He was so deeply inspired by aesthetics, philosophy, spirituality, music, history and culture, and he had such a fertile and generative mind, that he was always able to move between many different ideas and create a lot of space and meaning in a work.”
To his sculpture, Mr. Adkins sought to bring the fleeting impermanence of music, creating haunting assemblages of found objects — wood, cloth, coat hangers, spare parts from junkyards — that evoked vanished histories.
To his improvisational, jazz-inflected music, he brought the muscular physicality of sculpture, forging immense, curious instruments from assorted materials. Many were playable, including a set of 18-foot-long horns he called arkaphones.
The sculpture and the music were meant to be experienced in tandem, and with his band, the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, Mr. Adkins staged multimedia performance pieces that fused the visual and the aural. Many were homages to pathbreaking figures in African-American history, among them the abolitionist John Brown, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the musicians Bessie Smith, John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix.
“Meteor Stream: Recital in Four Dominions,” for instance, was one of a cycle of works in which Mr. Adkins honored Brown. In that piece, performed in 2009 at the American Academy in Rome, he explored Brown’s storied past through an amalgam of music, sculpture, video, drawing and readings from Brown’s own writings.
In an installation devoted to Hendrix, Mr. Adkins homed in on lesser-known aspects of his subject’s personal history, including his service in the early 1960s as a paratrooper in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
To research a piece on the life of the African-American explorer Matthew Henson, who accompanied Robert Peary on several expeditions, including the one Peary said reached the North Pole in 1909, Mr. Adkins traveled to the Arctic to experience Henson’s milieu firsthand.
At its core, all of Mr. Adkins’s work was about how the past suffuses the present and vice versa.
Terry Roger Adkins was born in Washington on May 9, 1953, into a musical household. His father, Robert, a teacher, sang and played the organ; his mother, Doris Jackson, a nurse, was an amateur clarinetist and pianist.
As a young man, Mr. Adkins planned to be a musician, but in college he found himself drawn increasingly to visual art. He earned a B.S. in printmaking from Fisk University in Nashville, followed by an M.S. in the field from Illinois State University and an M.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Kentucky.
Mr. Adkins, who also maintained a home in Philadelphia, is survived by his wife, Merele Williams-Adkins, whom he married in 1992; a son, Titus Hamilton Adkins; a daughter, Turiya Hamlet Adkins; his mother; two brothers, Bruce and Jon; and two sisters, Karen Randolph and Debbie Vereen.
His work was the subject of a major retrospective in 2012 at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. It has also been featured at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1) in Queens, the LedisFlam Gallery in Brooklyn and elsewhere. In an interview with the website danaroc.com, Mr. Adkins spoke of his desire to reconcile the temporal imperatives of music with the spatial ones of art.
“My quest has been to find a way to make music as physical as sculpture might be, and sculpture as ethereal as music is,” he said. “It’s kind of challenging to make both of those pursuits do what they are normally not able to do.”
Garrick Utley, a former anchor for NBC News who for many years was one of a rare breed in television news reporting, a full-time foreign correspondent, died Thursday night at his home in Manhattan. He was 74.
He died of prostate cancer, his wife, Gertje Utley, said.
From the battlefields of Vietnam and Iraq to the Soviet-led invasion of Prague, Mr. Utley was a forthright interviewer of troops and commanders in the field and of presidents and diplomats in the halls of power.
Fluent in Russian, German and French, he reported from about 75 countries in a multifaceted career that included 30 years at NBC. He was a bureau chief in London and Paris for the network, chief foreign correspondent, weekend news anchor and substitute for John Chancellor and Tom Brokaw on “NBC Nightly News.” He also hosted magazine programs and moderated the Sunday morning program “Meet the Press.” He later worked for ABC News and CNN.
Mr. Utley began his career auspiciously, rising from office clerk to Vietnam War correspondent in one year. In 1964 he became one of the first network reporters based in Saigon, joining newspaper and wire service correspondents. Like some of his colleagues, he strived for meaningful reporting, offering longer perspectives on political issues and battlefield developments and bringing a little-known war home vividly to Americans.
In 1968, Mr. Utley covered the invasion of Czechoslovakia as Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces crushed the so-called Prague Spring political reforms. He covered the 1973 Yom Kippur war, interviewed the Nazi leader Albert Speer in 1976, reported on the Cold War from Berlin and Moscow and, in 1987, interviewed the dissident physicist Andrei D. Sakharov as he emerged from years of internal exile. He covered a summit of Presidents George H. W. Bush and Mikhail S. Gorbachev in 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall that same year and the Persian Gulf war in 1990.
Mr. Utley was no swashbuckler in a trench coat: He was a gangly 6-foot-6 scarecrow with gentle eyes and a wry smile who slouched beside his small German-born wife. He loved opera and for years was the host of the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on PBS. He was also a workhorse on assignment, an aggressive voice in the studio and a critic of the networks when they cut back international news coverage and in-depth reporting.
Serious television reporting has largely been replaced by “interminable talking heads,” he told The New York Times in 2004, when he joined a State University of New York graduate program in international relations in Manhattan. “Since television can now report live from anywhere in the world, television reporters sometimes become color commentators who narrate news events rather than carrying out in-depth news reporting.”
Clifton Garrick Utley was born in Chicago on Nov. 19, 1939, to Clifton Utley, an NBC radio and television commentator, and Frayn Garrick Utley, a broadcast reporter for CBS and NBC and a Chicago civic leader. He graduated from Westtown School in West Chester, Pa., in 1957, and from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., in 1961.
After Army service and graduate studies at the Free University in Berlin, Mr. Utley joined NBC in Brussels in 1963 on the recommendation of a family friend, the correspondent Mr. Chancellor, who became his mentor. Mr. Utley was soon covering the war in Indochina.
In 1973 he married Gertje Rommeswinkel, an art historian and author who sometimes accompanied him on assignments. Besides his wife, he is survived by two brothers, Jonathan and David.
In the early 1970s, he anchored Saturday evening news programs in New York before being succeeded in 1973 by Mr. Brokaw, then a rising NBC star. For the rest of the decade Mr. Utley was the network’s London bureau chief and senior European correspondent.
Returning to New York, he wrote and anchored “NBC White Paper: America — Black and White,” on the black experience since the civil rights era, in 1981. He was NBC’s chief correspondent in the 1980s, covering foreign and domestic affairs, including presidential campaigns.
He moderated “Meet the Press” from 1989 to 1991 and anchored weekend news programs from 1988 to 1993. He left NBC in 1993 and until 1996 was ABC’s London-based chief foreign correspondent. From 1997 to 2002 he reported for CNN; he co-anchored the network’s coverage of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
His memoir, “You Should Have Been Here Yesterday: A Life in Television News,” was published in 2000, almost simultaneously with his wife’s book “Picasso: The Communist Years.”
Mr. Utley won a Peabody Award and the Overseas Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Award. He was president of SUNY’s Neil D. Levin Graduate Institute of International Relations and Commerce in Manhattan from 2004 to 2011, studying New York’s role in the global economy. He later taught journalism and broadcasting at the State University of New York at Oswego.
Correction: February 21, 2014 An earlier version of this obituary misstated the year Mr. Utley covered the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was 1989, not 1991. In addition, an earlier version of a capsule summary on the Home Page for this obituary carried an erroneous caption. As the obituary, its headline and another picture caption correctly noted, Mr. Utley was Garrick, not Gareth.SOURCE************************************************
ALISON JOLLY, WHO FOUND FEMALE DOMINANCE IN LEMURS
Alison Jolly, an American-born primatologist whose research in the forests of Madagascar shed new light on the evolution of social intelligence and helped disprove a longstanding scientific tenet that males were dominant in every primate species, died on Feb. 6 in Lewes, East Sussex, England. She was 76.
The cause was breast cancer, said Barbara Orlando, a longtime friend.
Dr. Jolly’s two major insights emerged from her 1960s field studies of the lemur, a primate whose development in relative isolation on the island of Madagascar makes the species something akin to a living fossil.
Writing in the journal Science in 1966, Dr. Jolly cited lemurs’ complex social relationships as evidence of an unexplored trail in one of anthropology’s great mysteries: the evolution of higher intelligence. She suggested that the many hours lemurs spent in play, mutual grooming and networking — activities that establish social ties and hierarchies — may have been as important to the evolution of intelligence as the development of weapons and tools, then considered the hallmark of evolutionary advance.
More unnerving to colleagues was her discovery that in some primate species, females run the show. The finding upended a bedrock assertion in evolutionary biology, based on studies of chimpanzees and orangutans in captivity, that males dominated females in every primate species, including humans.
“Females have social, spatial and feeding priority over males,” Dr. Jolly wrote in describing the feeding, mating, child-rearing and recreational habits of the ring-tailed lemur, one of about 100 recognized species of lemur, of which more than a dozen are female-dominant. Among the ring-tailed lemurs, Dr. Jolly wrote in “Lemur Behavior: A Madagascar Field Study,” “all females, whether dominant or subordinate in the female hierarchy, are dominant over males.”
The most subordinate females would “at times pounce upon a dominant male and snatch a tamarind pod from his hand, cuffing him over the ear in the process,” she added.
Dr. Jolly’s findings were eventually accepted, though not without resistance, said Patricia C. Wright, a primatologist, lemur expert and professor of anthropology at Stony Brook University on Long Island.
“This was a real surprise to people in the ’60s,” Dr. Wright said. “Female leaders were still so rare. And here comes a woman presenting a model of primates where the females are leaders — effective leaders.”
Dr. Jolly, who wrote a half-dozen books and over a hundred papers while teaching and raising four children, variously did her research under the aegis of the New York Zoological Society, now called the Wildlife Conservation Society, Rockefeller and Princeton Universities and the Universities of Cambridge and Sussex in England. She was considered rare among figures of her prominence in never having sought a tenured university post. At her death she was a visiting scientist at Sussex.
Colleagues described Dr. Jolly as a quiet path maker. She received less attention than contemporaries like the primatologist Jane Goodall, even though she helped change the field and pioneered a brand of environmental activism that has helped preserve vast, fecund sections of Madagascar.
Dr. Jolly persuaded Madagascar’s frequently unstable governments to expand wilderness preserves that are home to lemurs and thousands of other species of animals and plants found nowhere else. She later wrote a series of children’s books in hopes of raising environmental awareness among the country’s young. The books chronicle the adventures of Ako, Tik Tik and Bitika, lemurs that confront daily environmental threats.
The naturalist David Attenborough, who featured her in his natural history programs for the BBC, said of Dr. Jolly in a recent tribute, “Not only lemurs, but the people and land of Madagascar captured her heart.”
Born Alison Bishop in Ithaca, N.Y., on May 9, 1937, she grew up in a household of literary and artistic accomplishment. Her mother, Alison Mason Kingsbury, was a noted portrait and landscape artist. Her father, Morris G. Bishop, a professor of romance languages at Cornell, was a novelist, essayist and comic poet who helped bring a friend, the Russian émigré Vladimir Nabokov, to Cornell as a literature professor.
Dr. Jolly received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell in 1958 and her Ph.D. in zoology from Yale in 1962. She made several extended trips to Madagascar for the field studies that informed her writings, including her books “The Evolution of Primate Behavior” (1972), “A World Like Our Own: Man and Nature in Madagascar” (1980) and “Lucy’s Legacy: Sex and Intelligence in Human Evolution” (1999).
Her survivors include her husband, Richard Jolly, a British economist; four children, Margaretta, Susan, Arthur and Richard Jr.; and four grandchildren.
In 2006, a new species of mouse lemur, the tiny Microcebus jollyae, was named in her honor.
In “A World Like Our Own,” Dr. Jolly described the allure of lemurs and their Texas-size habitat off the southeast coast of Africa. Lemurs provided “a clue to the moment when our own ancestors began to specialize in sociability,” she wrote. And Madagascar, she added, offered a chance to see “which rules would still hold true if time had once broken its banks and flowed to the present down a different channel.”
Correction: February 19, 2014 An earlier version of this article misstated the title of one of Alison Jolly’s books. It is “Lucy’s Legacy: Sex and Intelligence in Human Evolution,” not “Lucy’s Legacy: Sex and Intelligence in Human Intelligence.”SOURCE*************************************************
Mike Stepovich, the last presidentially appointed governor of the Territory of Alaska, who helped lobby Congress for statehood, died on Friday in San Diego. He was 94.
The cause was complications of a fall, his daughter Antonia Gore said.
Mr. Stepovich bridged Alaska’s past and future, and not just politically. In the late 1890s, his father, Marko, a miner chasing the Klondike gold rush, traveled from his native Montenegro to a frontier then called the District of Alaska.
Decades later, the miner’s first son had become a lawyer in the growing city of Fairbanks, a representative in the legislature of the Territory of Alaska and, in 1957, at age 38, the governor of the territory, appointed by a fellow Republican, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Mr. Stepovich’s most memorable achievement in office was that he worked himself out of it.
For years, many Alaskans resisted statehood, uncertain that they wanted the federal involvement that came with it, and plenty of members of Congress were uncertain about adding to the federal government’s responsibilities with a 49th state. But Mr. Stepovich lobbied for the cause across Alaska and elsewhere, particularly on Capitol Hill, where he was one of the effort’s most visible faces.
His diplomacy, persistent but warm, was widely credited with helping to build consensus. On June 9, 1958, with momentum toward statehood peaking, his portrait appeared on the cover of Time magazine along with an illustration of a totem pole.
On June 30, Congress approved a bill granting Alaska statehood. Eisenhower signed it on July 7. A month later, Mr. Stepovich resigned. But he did not lose interest in politics.
With Alaska set to become a state in January 1959, five major offices in Alaska were in play in a special election that November: two Senate seats, a House seat, the governorship and the post of secretary of state. The only one that Republicans believed they could win was a Senate seat, because Mr. Stepovich was seeking it.
Vice President Richard M. Nixon spent three days in Alaska speaking on his behalf. Interior Secretary Fred A. Seaton stayed two weeks. Republicans emphasized that Mr. Stepovich was 39, with a long, presumably bright future, while his Democratic opponent, Ernest Gruening, was 71. He had served 13 years as territorial governor, appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Despite the Republican push, Democrats swept all of the offices — the Stepovich-Gruening race was the closest — increasing their margin in the Senate to 64 to 34. Mr. Stepovich ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1962, losing a close race to the incumbent, William A. Egan, with whom he had lobbied for statehood a few years earlier. In 1966, he lost in the Republican primary for governor to Walter J. Hickel, who was elected that fall (and who later became secretary of the interior under Nixon).
Mike Anthony Stepovich was born in Fairbanks on March 12, 1919, the only child of Marko and Olga Stepovich. He moved to Oregon with his mother after his parents separated.
He graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., in 1941. (His daughter Nada was a star volleyball player at Gonzaga, where she met John Stockton, a basketball star there and later in the N.B.A. They married, and their son, David, now plays basketball for Gonzaga.) Mr. Stepovich received a law degree from Notre Dame in 1943.
After serving in the Navy, he returned to Fairbanks to practice law and served in the territorial House and Senate, where he was minority leader and fought Democratic efforts to raise taxes on mining, fishing and logging. After his political career ended in the 1960s, he continued to practice law in Fairbanks until moving back to Oregon in 1978.
Besides his daughters Antonia and Nada, he is survived by four other daughters, Maria Greulich, Laura Tramonte, Andrea McGill and Melissa Cook; seven sons, Michael, Peter, Christopher, Dominic, Theodore, Nicholas and James; 37 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; two half-sisters, Nada Houston and Ellen Burdette; and two half-brothers, Michael and Alexander Stepovich. His wife, the former Matilda Baricevic, died in 2003.
The family had eight children when they moved into the governor’s mansion in Juneau in 1957 — a big step up from their small house in Fairbanks. Looking back at that time in a 1958 profile in The New York Times, he said he had discovered a black limousine in the mansion’s garage, its license plate bearing a single digit.
“I’m going to have the kids paint some more numbers on there,” he recalled thinking. “Imagine me with license plate No. 1.”
Correction: February 21, 2014 An earlier version of this obituary misidentified the country from which Mr. Stepovich’s father, Marko, emigrated to Alaska in the late 1890s. It was Montenegro, not Yugoslavia. (The nation of Yugoslavia did not yet exist at that time.)SOURCE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
February 20, 2014 | Astronomers have discovered the purest star to date. Composed almost exclusively of hydrogen and helium — with 15 million times less iron than our Sun — it illuminates what happened among the first supernovae in the early universe. > read more
February 16, 2014 | Both hot and cool white dwarf stars can display the remains of destroyed planets polluting their atmospheres. There now appear to be two routes for this material to make its way in. > read more
February 19, 2014 | Astronomers have discovered a new “failed star” with unusually red, dusty skies. The dust makes the object look much younger than it actually is, complicating studies of this type of brown dwarf. > read more
Railing fervently against the “hybreeds” spawned by God-defying, racially mixed marriages, Pastor Donny Reagan of Tennessee’s Happy Valley Church of Jesus Christ doesn’t look very happy on a widely circulated Internet video that comes across like a relic from some 1950s archive.
The pastor minces no words in his sermon: “What white woman would want her baby to be a mulatto by a colored man?” As for the black man who has children with a white woman: “He don’t want them to look like him, so he’ll marry with another.” Lest this sound racist, Reagan adds helpfully, “Some of the finest people I ever met in my life was some of them colored people.”
But this sermon isn’t from the bad old times; it was recorded justlast year in Reagan’s 600-member Johnson City, Tenn., church. What’s more, the pastor is not unique in translating the theology of William Branham, a breakaway Pentecostal religious leader, into a “no-exceptions” Biblical ban on interracial marriage. Branham-based churches are scattered across the U.S. They may not all embrace the racial separation extolled by Reagan, but the Branham theology invites racism, says James Walker, president of The Watchman Fellowship, an Arlington, Texas, evangelical ministry that researches cults and new religious movements.
Branham, a U.S. preacher and faith healer who died in 1965, identified with the Pentecostal movement until the late ’50s, when he began to reject core aspects of traditional Christian faith. He preached that original sin stemmed not from Eve biting the fruit and gaining knowledge but, instead, from her sexual intercourse with the serpent, which resulted in the birth of Cain. This led, through the bloodline of Cain, Noah and Ham, to a race of human beings who were descended from the evil serpent. Guess who they are.
Actually, Branham never quite said, notes Walker, author of The Concise Guide to Today’s Religions and Spirituality (Harvest House). “But it’s not that far a stretch to begin to interpret it in a racist way. Any church that teaches this ‘serpentism’ is going to have a tendency to be racist, because it separates people by DNA and bloodline. It’s a way of marginalizing people,” says Walker, who adds that he’s spoken with U.S. pastors in Branham’s camp who don’t appear to be racist.
It’s hard to know exactly how many Branham-allied U.S. churches there are,since there is no central denomination — Branham preached against it — or uniting authority. It’s a loose confederation, says Walker, with churches geographically scattered in places including Louisiana, Indiana and Arizona. Branham is extolled as an apostle himself, practically a god, in these churches.
Branham’s theology, alive as it still is today, also was a precursor of the virulently racist and anti-Semitic Christian Identity theology, suggests Michael Barkun, an emeritus political science professor at Syracuse University and author of Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement (University of North Carolina Press). Most Christian Identity followers also posit that Eve mated with Satan, starting, through the birth of her first son Cain, the line of biologically Satanic people who today call themselves the Jews. People of color, in this twisted interpretation of the Bible, are soulless beings made by God on the sixth day as “beasts of the field.” Adam’s descendants? They’re all white Christians.
“Christian Identity has it all worked out who’s the lower people. Branham was not quite there,” Barkun explains.
But most of Branham’s modern adherents certainly believe that miscegenation is a sin decreed by God. Happy Valley’s Pastor Reagan compares people to corn: “If corn was raised in a certain way, yellow corn, don’t mix it with white corn. If you do your mixing, you can’t bring yourself back again,” he warns. Black women don’t want their children to be of mixed racial background, he insists. Reagan says many black athletic stars choose white wives in a willful attempt to make their offspring lighter, challenging God’s plan. “He don’t want them to be like him, so he’ll marry another. … It’s another defiance of God’s law, it’s a worldly way.” And the pastor condemns fellow ministers who perform interracial marriages. “Some of the men in pulpits should have a pantywaist instead of a preacher coat on!”
But the most ludicrous implication about race mixing — and one that would have been right at home among the most virulent 1950s defenders of segregation — is left for last in his sermon. From far, far right field, Reagan draws the C-card. “You mean to tell me,” he demands, outraged, “that Communism has infiltrated our message, not through Stalin, not through Mussolini, but through mixed marriage?”
SHIRLEY TEMPLE BLACK, HOLLYWOOD’S BIGGEST LITTLE STAR
Shirley Temple Black dead at 85: ‘Bright Eyes’ actress, beloved child star turned U.S. diplomat passed away of natural causes
The Great Depression-era star made nearly 40 movies before 1940. She eventually retired from acting in her early 20s and tried her hand at politics before becoming a spokesperson for various causes and an ambassador. The ‘Bright Eyes’ star passed away in her home in California, according to a statement from her family.
Shirley Temple became an Hollywood star before she was 10 years old.
Shirley Temple was a dimpled darling with blond ringlets who set the bar for child superstars in Hollywood before gracefully pivoting to a successful diplomatic career.
She was the fearless mom who made it OK to talk about breast cancer — at a time when the disease was shrouded by shame — by publicly announcing that she underwent a mastectomy and urging other women not to “sit home and be afraid.”
But she was never, ever, Lindsay Lohan.
Instead, the beloved actress, who died Monday, remained for much of her life the same sunny presence that lifted the nation’s spirits during the darkest days of the Depression — and entranced the generations of moviegoers who followed.
Unlike Lohan and many of the other child stars-turned-train wrecks who followed in Temple’s footsteps, there were no off-screen meltdowns, no mug shots, no public drunkenness — and not even a whiff of scandal.
“You can wake her up in the middle of the night and she has the same personality everybody knows,” her late husband, Charles Alden Black, told a reporter in 1988. “What everybody has seen for 60 years is the bedrock.”
Officially, she was 85, but to many Americans she was forever that precocious little girl with the adorable pout who sang about dreaming away “On the Good Ship Lollipop” in the movie classic “Bright Eyes.”
Playing an orphan, she melted criminal hearts in “Little Miss Marker.” She brokered a peace between the settlers and Indians in another Hollywood hit, “Susannah of the Mounties.” And she danced on a piano in “Little Miss Broadway.”
“I want to do that, too,” she told Bill (Bojangles) Robinson in another iconic film, “The Little Colonel,” where she gently toppled a taboo in 1930s America by taking the black performer’s hand and tap-dancing with him on the stairs.
From 1935 to 1939, Temple was the biggest little star in Tinseltown on the strength of movies like “Wee Willie Winkie” and “Heidi,” and helped save 20th Century Fox from bankruptcy with films like “Curly Top” and “The Littlest Rebel.”
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Shirley Temple starred in nearly 40 films before the end of the 1930s.
More popular than Clark Gable, Bing Crosby or Greta Garbo, she won an honorary Oscar when she was 6 and made $3 million while still a child. That’s the equivalent of about $45 million today.
Moms dressed their daughters like her. Shirley Temple dolls became the rage. And they even named a drink after the starlet, a chaste but sweet concoction called the Shirley Temple that mixed ginger ale, grenadine and a maraschino cherry — and contained no liquor.
Shirley Temple, Iconic Child Star, Dies at 85
“As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right,” President Franklin Roosevelt declared.
Temple’s ride at the top was short, but she never let the fame go to her pretty head.
Unlike Dina Lohan, Temple’s mother, Gertrude, kept her grounded and was present for virtually every scene she filmed. Gertrude Temple, the actress told the Los Angeles Times, was a “super mother” who “kept my head on straight.”
Temple was also humble about her success.
“People in the Depression wanted something to cheer them up, and they fell in love with a dog, Rin Tin Tin and a little girl,” she said long after the she left the movie business.
Temple rarely dwelled on what it might have been like had she not grown up a child star. But she once told a reporter that she stopped believing in Santa Claus when she was 6.
But Temple’s career ended where most actresses begin — when she started growing up.
Moviegoers who adored Temple as a girl turned away when she became a young woman and co-starred with Cary Grant in “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” and with future President Ronald Reagan in “That Hagen Girl.”
The final blow to her career was when Temple failed to get the title role in “Peter Pan,” a play about a boy who never wants to grow up.
By 22, she was washed up in Hollywood and divorced from her first husband, actor John Agar, the father of her daughter Linda.
Five months after divorcing Agar, she married Black. And they stayed married for 55 years, a happy union that produced two children and ended with his death in 2005.
Shirley Temple and Cesar Romero in the classic 1937 film, ‘Wee Willie Winkie.’
Temple did not fall into despair while she was figuring out her next career move. She did some television work. She did some corporate work. She raised her kids.
During that time, Temple moved to a San Francisco suburb where she became president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and a prime mover behind the San Francisco International Film Festival.
A supporter of the Vietnam War, Temple tried her hand at politics but lost her run for Congress in 1967 to a more moderate Republican.
In 1969, President Richard Nixon tapped Temple to be part of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations and launched her on a distinguished diplomatic career.
Temple served as U.S. ambassador to Ghana under President Gerald Ford and was the first President George Bush’s ambassador to Czechoslovakia when communism fell in 1989.
“My main job (initially) was human rights, trying to keep people like future (Czech) President Vaclav Havel out of jail,” she told The Associated Press in 1999.
In 1972, Temple made headlines again after she underwent successful breast cancer surgery. And she was credited with giving other women the strength to battle the dreaded disease.
“I have much more to accomplish before I am through,” she told her fans.
Temple’s final years in Woodside, Calif., however, were quiet. And when she passed, it was in the company of those nearest and dearest to her.
“She was surrounded by her family and caregivers,” her family said in a statement. “We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and . . . our beloved mother, grandmother (and) great-grandmother.”
Sid Caesar, a comedic force of nature who became one of television’s first stars in the early 1950s and influenced generations of comedians and comedy writers, died on Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 91.
His death was announced by Eddy Friedfeld, a family spokesman.
Mr. Caesar largely faded from the public eye in his middle years as he struggled with crippling self-doubt and addiction to alcohol and pills. But from 1950 to 1954, he and his co-stars on the live 90-minute comedy-variety extravaganza “Your Show of Shows” dominated the Saturday night viewing habits of millions of Americans. In New York, a group of Broadway theater owners tried to persuade NBC to switch the show to the middle of the week because, they said, it was ruining their Saturday business.
Albert Einstein was a Caesar fan. Alfred Hitchcock called Mr. Caesar the funniest performer since Charlie Chaplin.
Television comedy in its early days was dominated by boisterous veterans of vaudeville and radio who specialized in broad slapstick and snappy one-liners. Mr. Caesar introduced a different kind of humor to the small screen, at once more intimate and more absurd, based less on jokes or pratfalls than on characters and situations. It left an indelible mark on American comedy.
“If you want to find the ur-texts of ‘The Producers’ and ‘Blazing Saddles,’ of ‘Sleeper’ and ‘Annie Hall,’ of ‘All in the Family’ and ‘M*A*S*H’ and ‘Saturday Night Live,’ “ Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times when he was its chief theater critic, “check out the old kinescopes of Sid Caesar.”
A list of Mr. Caesar’s writers over the years reads like a comedy all-star team. Mel Brooks (who in 1982 called him “the funniest man America has produced to date”) did some of his earliest writing for him, as did Woody Allen. So did the most successful playwright in the history of the American stage, Neil Simon. Carl Reiner created one landmark sitcom, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”; Larry Gelbart was the principal creative force behind another, “M*A*S*H.” Mel Tolkin wrote numerous scripts for “All in the Family.” The authors of the two longest-running Broadway musicals of the 1960s, Joseph Stein (“Fiddler on the Roof”) and Michael Stewart (“Hello, Dolly!”), were Caesar alumni as well.
Sketches on “Your Show of Shows” and its successor, “Caesar’s Hour” (1954-57), were as likely to skewer the minutiae of domestic life as to lampoon classic Hollywood movies, arty foreign films and even operas. Mr. Caesar won Emmys for both those shows.
With a rubbery face and the body of a linebacker, Mr. Caesar could get laughs without saying a word, as he did in a pantomime routine in which he and his co-stars, Imogene Coca, Howard Morris and Mr. Reiner, played mechanical figures on a town clock that goes dangerously out of whack.
Fluent in Fake Languages
Mr. Caesar was a master of improvisation: In a classic moment during a parody of the opera “Pagliacci,” as he was drawing tears on his face in front of a dressing-room mirror, the makeup pencil broke. Suddenly unable to draw anything but straight lines, he made the split-second decision to play tick-tack-toe on his cheek.
He was also deft at handling whatever wordplay his writers gave him. In one guise, as the extremely far-out jazz saxophonist Progress Hornsby, he explained that his new record was in a special kind of hi-fi: “This is the highest they’ve ever fied. If they fi any higher than this, they’re gonna foo!”
He could seem eloquent even when his words were total gibberish: Among his gifts was the ability to mimic the sounds and cadences of foreign languages he didn’t actually speak.
He was equally convincing as a suburban husband slowly figuring out that his wife, played by Ms. Coca, had wrecked the car (a comic conceit that had not yet become a cliché); as an absurdly enthusiastic member of a bouffant-coiffed rock ‘n’ roll trio called the Haircuts; or as a pompous German professor in a battered top hat and moth-eaten frock coat who claimed, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, to be an expert on pretty much everything. One week, the professor was an archaeologist who claimed to have discovered “the secret of Titten-Totten’s tomb.” Asked what the secret was, he became indignant: “You think I’m gonna tell you? You got another guess coming. You take that trip.”
Two decades after “Your Show of Shows” ruled the Saturday-night airwaves, another live 90-minute show, similarly built around a stock company’s wild and often irreverent sketch comedy, helped change the face of television. But there might not have been a “Saturday Night Live” if Sid Caesar and company hadn’t paved the way.
“It was fun, but hard,” Mr. Caesar said in 1984, looking back on his glory years. “I worked six days a week, putting the script together, working with the writers. The show had to be written by Wednesday night because Thursday we had to put it on its feet. Friday we showed it to the technicians, and Saturday was the show. Sunday was our only day off, and I used to stand under the shower and shake.”
He did more than shake. By the age of 30, Mr. Caesar was not just the king of television, earning $1 million a year; he was also an alcoholic and a pill addict. Under his manic exterior, he recalled in “Where Have I Been?,” his 1982 autobiography, he was distraught and filled with self-hatred, tormented by guilt because he did not think he deserved the acclaim he was receiving.
He was also given to explosive rages. Mr. Caesar once dangled a terrified Mr. Brooks from an 18th-story window until colleagues restrained him. With one punch, he knocked out a horse that had thrown his wife off its back, a scene that Mr. Brooks replayed in his movie “Blazing Saddles.”
By the late 1950s, he was off the air, a victim of changing tastes as well as personal problems. He made a triumphant comeback on Broadway in 1962, playing seven characters in “Little Me,” a musical created by Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh and Mr. Simon. (A concert revival of “Little Me” was part of the Encores! series at City Center this month.) A year later, Mr. Caesar held his own among comedy heavyweights like Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney and Jonathan Winters in the hit movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” But his problems soon got the better of him, and his comeback was short-lived.
Most of the 1960s and ’70s were a struggle. They were also a blur: In writing “Where Have I Been?” Mr. Caesar relied on reporting by his collaborator, Bill Davidson, and the recollections of his family, because there was so much he could not remember. (Twenty-one years later, Mr. Caesar and Mr. Friedfeld wrote a second autobiography, “Caesar’s Hours.” This one was more upbeat, mostly because the focus was Mr. Caesar’s comedy career rather than his personal struggles.)
Mr. Caesar was not entirely out of the public eye, even in his dark days. He showed up on television now and then; he appeared in a handful of movies, some memorable (Mr. Brooks’s “Silent Movie”) and some less so (the silly horror comedy “The Spirit Is Willing”); he returned to Broadway in 1971, albeit briefly, in “Four on a Garden,” an ill-fated evening of one-act comedies that also starred Carol Channing. And the release in 1973 of “Ten From Your Show of Shows,” a feature-film compilation of sketches, helped keep his reputation alive. But he continued to flounder.
Back Up From Rock Bottom
The low point came in 1978. He was in two movies that year, “Grease” and “The Cheap Detective,” but by the time they hit theaters, he had hit bottom.
Incapacitated by his addictions and neuroses, barely able to get out of bed, he underwent intensive psychotherapy and medical treatment. He found salvation and sanity, he later said, in a form of Jungian self-therapy: recording improvised dialogues each day between himself as Sid, a wise father, and Sidney, his wayward son, whom the father teaches to become a restrained, confident adult. In the 1980s, Mr. Caesar acquired a new addiction: healthful living. He developed a lean, youthful physique by avoiding fat, salt and sugar and by strenuously working out at least one hour each morning.
“Now, instead of knocking life down, tearing it apart, I graciously accept life,” he said.
Sidney Caesar was born on Sept. 8, 1922, in Yonkers, the youngest of three sons of Jewish immigrants, Max Caesar and the former Ida Rafael. Max, who emigrated from Poland, owned and operated a luncheonette with his wife, who had come from Russia; young Sid Caesar developed his foreign-sounding double talk by listening closely to the luncheonette’s multinational clientele. The family lived over the restaurant and rented rooms to transients.
As a child, Sid was moody, shy, quiet and — although he would later grow to 6 foot 2 — short. He once said he felt “like a midget in the world of giants.” He kept to himself much of the time. He was 3 before he began to talk, and even then, his brothers recalled, he did not say a great deal.
His teachers, interviewed at the time of his early television success, remembered a completely unexceptional child. “Sid Caesar was one of the dumbest pupils I ever had,” one teacher said.
He took up weight lifting. “I developed tremendous muscles, which everyone had to respect,” he said. “The biceps I built were disguises for my fear.”
He also learned how to play the saxophone, which he later said saved his life: “It helped me blow off some steam and get rid of some of the anger.”
Equally important, the saxophone gave him an entree into show business. At 14, he was hired to play at a Catskills hotel on summer vacation. While there, he also began performing in comedy sketches; he still thought of himself primarily as a saxophonist and would go on to work with the bands of Shep Fields, Claude Thornhill and others, but comedy soon became his primary focus.
After graduating from Yonkers High School, he worked as an usher and then a doorman at the Capitol Theater in Manhattan, auditing courses at the Juilliard School because he could not afford to attend. He met Florence Levy in the Catskills and married her in 1943.
In World War II, he enlisted in the Coast Guard and did duty on Brooklyn piers. In his free time, he wrote comic material that helped win him a role in “Tars and Spars,” a Coast Guard revue that toured the country and was made into a movie, in which he also appeared, in 1946. A monologue in which he played multiple characters and provided all the sound effects of a World War I aerial dogfight made a strong impression on audiences — and on the show’s director, Max Liebman.
In 1948, Mr. Liebman directed Mr. Caesar in the hit Broadway revue “Make Mine Manhattan.” The next year, when Mr. Liebman brought him to television on the weekly “The Admiral Broadway Revue,” Mr. Caesar was hailed as the small-screen discovery of the year. His star rose even higher with the debut of “Your Show of Shows,” also overseen by Mr. Liebman, in February 1950.
Although the chemistry between Mr. Caesar and Ms. Coca was a large part of the show’s success, NBC decided to split them up and give Ms. Coca her own show after four years. With Mr. Reiner and Mr. Morris still by his side, Mr. Caesar carried on with “Caesar’s Hour,” but after a strong start, the ratings declined, and the show was canceled in 1957. He returned the next year with “Sid Caesar Invites You,” a half-hour ABC show, which reunited him with Ms. Coca. But the old magic was gone, and the show lasted only a few months.
“I had no experience in failure,” Mr. Caesar later recalled of the years that followed. “And then, when failure comes, oh, boy, it comes in lumps.”
After 20 up-and-down years, Mr. Caesar found himself in 1978 spending four months almost entirely in bed, secretly ordering in beer whenever his wife turned her back. Offered a job in Canada in Mr. Simon’s comedy “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” he was in such a fog of alcohol and pills that he couldn’t remember his lines. Finally, he sought treatment.
“I had to come to terms with myself,” he recalled. “Do you want to live or die? Make up your mind. And I did. I said, ‘I want to live.’ And that was it: the first step on a long journey.”
A Career Rejuvenated
His return to health and sobriety led to a career revival, aided by two events in 1982: the publication of “Where Have I Been?” and the release of the movie “My Favorite Year,” a fictionalized account of life behind the scenes at “Your Show of Shows” produced by Mr. Brooks, with Joseph Bologna as the show’s Caesar-like star.
Through the 1980s and ’90s, until health problems slowed him down, Mr. Caesar worked regularly: on television (he hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 1983), in films (he worked for Mr. Brooks again in “History of the World: Part I”), in nightclubs (with Ms. Coca), on Broadway (although his show “Sid Caesar and Company: Does Anybody Know What I’m Talking About?” closed quickly in 1989) and at the Metropolitan Opera, where he appeared as Frosch, the drunken jailer, in a 1987 production of “Die Fledermaus.”
Mr. Caesar was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1985.
Mr. Caesar’s wife, Florence, died in 2010. His survivors include a son, Richard; two daughters, Michele and Karen Caesar; and two grandsons.
In a 1987 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Caesar looked back on his early success and subsequent failures, both of which he admitted he had been unprepared to handle, and reflected on the perspective he said he had finally achieved.
“Everybody wants to have a goal: I gotta get to that goal, I gotta get to that goal, I gotta get to that goal,” he said. “Then you get to that goal, and then you gotta get to another goal. But in between goals is a thing called life that has to be lived and enjoyed — and if you don’t, you’re a fool.”
Ralph Waite, a multifaceted actor who became etched in television history as the craggy-faced, big-hearted patriarch of a rustic Depression-era clan on the popular 1970s dramatic series “The Waltons,” died on Thursday at his home in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 85.
His death was confirmed by Susan Zachary, his agent, who said the cause had not been determined.
Mr. Waite was a respected New York stage actor when he was offered a role on “The Waltons,” and at first he was not enthusiastic about it. But his agent, he recalled, advised him to take the part so that he could “pick up a couple of bucks” in Hollywood and go back to New York.
“The Waltons” made its debut on CBS in September 1972 against two already popular shows: Flip Wilson’s irreverent comedy-variety show on NBC and, on ABC, “Mod Squad,” a drama about young undercover police officers. What some saw as a cornball newcomer was expected to be buried, but within two seasons it had driven its competitors off the air.
The success of “The Waltons” owed much to the actors and the characters they played, members of a homespun rural family used to surmounting challenges through old-fashioned virtues. The foremost was John Jr., known as John-Boy, the oldest of seven children. Played by Richard Thomas, he was a serious young man with a passion to be a writer.
Almost as significant was Mr. Waite’s John Sr., the family patriarch, who displayed wisdom, goodness, courage and a bit of a temper. He did not approve of hunting animals for sport, but hunted to put food on his hard-pressed family’s table. Though he shunned organized religion, his wife, Olivia, played by Michael Learned, called him “the most God-fearing man I know.”
In 2004, a TV Guide poll of readers ranked him No. 3 on its list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time,” behind Bill Cosby’s Dr. Cliff Huxtable (No. 1) on “The Cosby Show” and Lorne Greene’s Ben Cartwright on “Bonanza.”
“The Waltons” lasted nine seasons and produced six made-for-television movie sequels. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush said he wanted to “make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons.”
“Somehow, we struck a vein in the life of the world,” Mr. Waite said in an interview in 2013 with The Lancaster News, a South Carolina newspaper.
Acting was only one aspect of Mr. Waite’s life. He was at various times a Marine, a social worker, an ordained Presbyterian minister, a book editor and a three-time Democratic candidate for Congress from California.
As an actor, he ranged from Shakespeare to Beckett and from Broadway to soap operas, most notably as Father Matt on “Days of Our Lives.” One of his two Emmy nominations was for playing Slater, the first mate of a slave ship, in the 1977 mini-series “Roots” — a glaring contrast to the broad-minded John Walton. The other was for “The Waltons.”
He had small parts in movies like “Cool Hand Luke” (1967), with Paul Newman, and “Five Easy Pieces” (1970), with Jack Nicholson. He appeared on television on “Murder One” (1996), as a clergyman on the HBO series “Carnivàle” (2003-5) and as Jackson Gibbs, the father of Mark Harmon’s character, on “NCIS” (2008-12). He directed 16 episodes of “The Waltons.”
Mr. Waite started the Los Angeles Actors’ Theater, an experimental company, and spent more than $1 million of his own money on a failed 1980 movie about skid-row types. The film, “On the Nickel,” which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in, appeared in just a few theaters.
Ralph Harold Waite was born in White Plains on June 22, 1928, the oldest of five children, and grew up in a “very secular, nonartistic” environment, he told People magazine in 1977.
“I was never taken to a play or concert or church,” he said. “Yet I was a show-off, a dreamer, a storyteller.”
After high school he joined the Marines, serving from 1946 to 1948, and attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., where he met Beverly Hall, whom he married in 1951. She encouraged him to go into social work, which he did in Westchester County after graduating in 1952.
Tiring of the county bureaucracy, he sought meaning in religion, a reversal of his belief in college that secular philosophy was sufficient. He entered Yale Divinity School and earned a master’s degree. He was ordained a Presbyterian minister and served congregations on Fishers Island, off Long Island, and in Garden City, N.Y.
He later left the ministry, upset with what he saw as hypocrisy in the church, and worked for Harper & Row editing religious books. That did not satisfy him for long either.
Meanwhile, his marriage deteriorated and he drank too much — a problem, he said, that worsened until he gave up alcohol in the mid-1970s. A friend suggested he try acting school.
“I was in my 30s and I had never acted before,” he told The Boston Globe in 1974. “But I figured I had nothing to lose, so I went with him. The first time I just listened. The second time I played a scene. The third time I took the bit in my teeth, and I loved it. I felt alive for the first time since I can’t remember when.”
He impressed his teachers and soon got a job as general understudy in an Off Broadway production of Jean Genet’s “The Balcony.” By the end of its six-month run, he had played all the major roles.
In 1965, he received excellent reviews for his performance in William Alfred’s “Hogan’s Goat,” a drama about Brooklyn politics in the 1890s. Two years later, he won praise in The New York Times from Clive Barnes, who, while savaging a modernistic interpretation of “Hamlet” at the Public Theater in which Hamlet passed out peanuts and balloons to the audience, singled out Mr. Waite for his “bluff, happy villainy” as Claudius.
Mr. Waite began getting movie roles. He wrote a screenplay and showed it to the producer Lee Rich, who ran Lorimar Productions with Merv Adelson. Mr. Rich was not interested in the script, but asked Mr. Waite if he would be interested in playing the father of a Depression family in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In Los Angeles, Mr. Waite became involved in politics and community work, leading an alcohol and drug recovery program, helping to build low-income housing and, in 1990, running for the House of Representatives. Despite contributions from Hollywood friends like Al Pacino, he lost to the Republican incumbent, Al McCandless.
He ran for Congress again in 1998, this time against Mary Bono, the widow of the pop singer and congressman Sonny Bono, who had been killed in a skiing accident. He lost to her both in a special election after Mr. Bono’s death and in the subsequent general election.
Mr. Waite’s campaign was handicapped by his commitment to appear as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” at a New Jersey theater, which forced him to commute back and forth to the West Coast.
Mr. Waite’s first marriage ended in divorce, as did his second, to Kerry Shear. He is survived by his wife, Linda East; a daughter, Kathleen; a stepson, Liam; and three grandchildren. A daughter, Suzanne, died several years ago.
Mr. Waite returned to the church in his later years, attending a liberal Presbyterian church in Palm Desert. He even preached a sermon or two, including one titled “We Are All Jews.”
Always he was John Walton, the paternal voice of wisdom. He remembered a woman approaching him in a crowd and saying she had been poor as a child and had thought of him as her father. “I went to school and college because of you,” he recalled her saying.
“She said, ‘Now I’m a lawyer, and I don’t think I would be if I hadn’t seen that show,’ ” Mr. Waite said. “I’m still amazed by that. It happens all the time.”
Correction: February 14, 2014 An earlier version of this article had a number of errors. At his death, Mr. Waite lived in Palm Desert, Calif., not Palm Springs. The production of Jean Genet’s “The Balcony” in which he appeared as general understudy was Off-Broadway, not on Broadway. And he is survived by one daughter, not two. (One daughter had died.)SOURCE
Gabriel Axel, a director whose 1987 labor of love, “Babette’s Feast,” received the first foreign-language Oscar awarded to a Danish motion picture — and heralded a growing popular interest in all things food — died on Sunday in Copenhagen. He was 95.
His death was confirmed by a spokesman for the Danish Film Directors Association.
Mr. Axel struggled for more than a decade to find backers for a film in which the characters shared equal billing with plates of ravishingly beautiful blinis, truffles and pastry-crusted quail. He wrote his first draft of the script, based on a short story by the Danish-born writer Isak Dinesen, in 1973.
Working steadily on French and Danish television and movie projects in the 1970s and early ’80s, Mr. Axel doggedly pursued his vision for 14 years before the film was completed and released.
“Babette’s Feast” was a surprise Oscar winner as best foreign-language film — it beat the heavy favorite, Louis Malle’s “Au Revoir les Enfants” — partly because of rave reviews and word-of-mouth support, and partly because of new rules adopted in the early 1980s by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requiring voting members to actually see the films they voted on.
Mr. Axel was a week shy of his 70th birthday when he took the podium in Los Angeles in April 1988 to accept the award. After saying his thank-yous, he quoted a line from his film: “Because of this evening, I have learned, my dear, that in this beautiful world of ours, all things are possible.”
“Babette’s Feast” tells the story of Babette Hersant, a Cordon Bleu chef in 19th-century Paris who flees political upheaval and personal tragedy to find sanctuary in rural Denmark. There Babette, played by the French actress Stéphane Audran, works as a housemaid and cook for a pair of aging, unmarried sisters living ascetic lives as wardens of a pleasure-shunning, Puritan-like community founded by their father, who is now dead.
The story’s climax involves a five-star meal of many courses prepared by Babette that serves as a kind of revelation, opening the palates (and souls) of her mistresses and their flock to the communal joys — spiritual and sensual — of a shared meal, lovingly prepared.
The film’s spiritual overtones made it a favorite of both dedicated epicures and the devoutly religious. In 2010 Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina — later to become Pope Francis — told journalists that “Babette’s Feast” was his favorite film.
“In ‘Babette’s Feast,’ the art of cooking by a dedicated professional chef became a cinematic subject worthy of our attention,” Steve Zimmerman, an anthropologist of food and author of the book “Food in the Movies,” wrote in a 2009 article published in Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. In Mr. Axel’s film and others that it inspired, he added, food was not only “exquisitely photographed in close-up,” but also served as a “metaphorically significant” part of the story.
Gabriel Axel was born Gabriel Axel Moerch on April 18, 1918, in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city. He spent his childhood in Paris, where his father owned a furniture factory, and returned to Denmark at 18 to study carpentry, with an eye toward joining the family business. But, drawn to the performing arts, he enrolled instead in the Danish Royal Theater Actors School. He graduated in 1945 and dropped the last name Moerch when he joined the Paris theater troupe of the French film and stage artist Louis Jouvet.
Mr. Axel directed several large projects for French television, then returned to Denmark, where he produced series for public television and directed films in the ’50s and ’60s. He also acted in films.
He is survived by four children. His wife of nearly 50 years, Lucie Juliette Laraignou, died in 1996.
Before making “Babette’s Feast,” Mr. Axel was best known for “Hagbard and Signe” (1968), a tragic love story set amid warring Icelandic tribes. Among his other films is “Royal Deceit” (1994), based on the Danish legend of Prince Hamlet.
In interviews, Mr. Axel said “Babette’s Feast” was his most gratifying work because it tested his ability as a storyteller and as a translator of another writer’s poetic imagery. In producing the feast of the film’s title, he recalled, professional chefs prepared over 100 stuffed quails before he completed shooting the dinner for 12. Some birds lost their photogenic beauty under the hot lights and had to be replaced. Others were discarded because actors refused to suck the brains from the quails’ heads, as the script required.
Since it was essential that characters “crushed by pain” be shown coming “alive to love” as a result of real culinary pleasure, he said, he ordered the chefs on the set to prepare substitute brains made from marzipan.
Correction: February 14, 2014 An earlier version of this obituary misstated the name of a journal in which an article that discussed Mr. Axel’s film “Babette’s Feast” was published in 2009. It was Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, the journal’s name at the time — not Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies, its current name.SOURCE
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