JAMES GARNER, WITYY, HANDSOME LEADING MAN
Mr. Garner, who smoked for most of his life, even after open-heart surgery in 1988, had suffered a stroke in 2008.
He was a genuine star but as an actor something of a paradox: a lantern-jawed, brawny athlete whose physical appeal was both enhanced and undercut by a disarming wit. He appeared in more than 50 films, many of them dramas — but as he established in one of his notable early performances, as a battle-shy naval officer in “The Americanization of Emily” (1964) and had shown before that in “Maverick” — he was most at home as an iconoclast, a flawed or unlikely hero.
An understated comic actor, he was especially adept at conveying life’s tiny bedevilments. One of his most memorable roles was as a perpetually flummoxed pitchman for Polaroid cameras in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in droll commercials in which he played a vexed husband and Mariette Hartley played his needling wife. They were so persuasive that Ms. Hartley had a shirt printed with the declaration “I am not Mrs. James Garner.”
His one Academy Award nomination was for the 1985 romantic comedy “Murphy’s Romance,” in which he played a small-town druggist who woos the new-in-town divorced mom (Sally Field) with a mixture of self-reliance, grouchy charm and lack of sympathy for fools.
Even Rockford, a semi-tough ex-con (he had served five years on a bum rap for armed robbery) who lived in a beat-up trailer in a Malibu beach parking lot, drove a Pontiac Firebird and could handle himself in a fight (though he probably took more punches than he gave), was exasperated most of the time by one thing or another: his money problems, the penchant of his father (Noah Beery Jr.) for getting into trouble or getting in the way, the hustles of his con-artist pal Angel (Stuart Margolin), his dicey relationship with the local police.
“Maverick” had been in part a sendup of the conventional western drama, and “The Rockford Files” similarly made fun of the standard television detective, the man’s man who upholds law and order and has everything under control. A sucker for a pretty girl and with a distinctly ’70s fashion sense — he favored loud houndstooth jackets — Rockford was perpetually wandering into threatening situations in which he ended up pursued by criminal goons or corrupt cops. He tried, mostly successfully, to steer clear of using guns; instead, a bit of a con artist himself, he relied on impersonations and other ruses — and high-speed driving skills.
Every episode of the show, which ran from 1974 to 1980 and more often than not involved at least one car chase and Rockford’s getting beaten up a time or two, began with a distinctive theme song featuring a synthesizer and a blues harmonica and a message coming in on a newfangled gadget — Rockford’s telephone answering machine — that underscored his unheroic existence: “Jim, this is Norma at the market. It bounced. Do you want us to tear it up, send it back or put it with the others?”
In his 2011 autobiography, “The Garner Files,” written with Jon Winokur, Mr. Garner confessed to having a live-and-let-live attitude with the caveat that when he was pushed, he shoved back. What distinguished his performance as Rockford was how well that more-put-upon-than-macho persona came across. Rockford’s reactions — startled, nonplused and annoyed being his specialties — appeared native to him.
His naturalness led John J. O’Connor, writing in The New York Times, to liken Mr. Garner to Gary Cooper and James Stewart. And like those two actors, Mr. Garner usually got the girl.
Mr. Garner came to acting late, and by accident. On his own after the age of 14 and a bit of a drifter, he had been working an endless series of jobs: telephone installer, oil field roughneck, chauffeur, dishwasher, janitor, lifeguard, grocery clerk, salesman and, fatefully, gas station attendant. While pumping gas in Los Angeles, he met a young man named Paul Gregory, who was working nearby as a soda jerk but wanted to be an agent.
Years later, after Mr. Garner had served in the Army during the Korean War — he was wounded in action twice, earning two Purple Hearts — he was working as a carpet layer in Los Angeles for a business run by his father. One afternoon he was driving on La Cienega Boulevard and saw a sign: Paul Gregory & Associates. Just then a car pulled out of a space in front of the building, and Mr. Garner, on a whim, pulled in. He was 25.
Mr. Gregory, by then an agent and a theatrical producer, hired him for a nonspeaking part in his production of Herman Wouk’s “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial,” which starred Henry Fonda, John Hodiak and Lloyd Nolan. It opened in Santa Barbara and toured the country before going to Broadway, where it opened in January 1954 and ran for 415 performances. Mr. Garner said he learned to act from running lines with the stars and watching them perform, especially Fonda, another good-looking actor with a sly streak.
“I swiped practically all my acting style from him,” he once said.
Mr. Garner claimed to have stage fright and no desire to act in the theater. He later played Lieutenant Maryk (the Hodiak role) in a touring company of the play that starred Charles Laughton, but afterward would almost never appear onstage again. Still, it was the serendipitous stop on La Cienega that changed his life.
“The only reason I’m an actor is that a lady pulled out of a parking space in front of a producer’s office,” he wrote in “The Garner Files.”
James Scott Bumgarner was born in Norman, Okla., on April 7, 1928. His paternal grandfather had participated in the Oklahoma land rush of 1889 and was later shot to death by the son of a widow with whom he’d been having an affair. His maternal grandfather was a full-blooded Cherokee. (Mr. Garner would later name his production company Cherokee Productions.)
His first home was the back of a small store that his father, Weldon, known as Bill, ran in the nearby hamlet of Denver. His mother, Mildred, died when he was 4. When he was 7, the store burned down and his father left James and his two older brothers to be raised by relatives; when his father remarried, the family reunited, but James’s stepmother was abusive, he said in his memoir, and after a violent episode at home, he left.
He worked in Oklahoma, Texas and Los Angeles, where his father finally resettled. He went briefly to Hollywood High School but returned to Norman, where he played football and basketball, to finish. In 1950, when the Korean War broke out, he was drafted.
Mr. Garner’s first Hollywood break came when he met Richard L. Bare, a director of the television western “Cheyenne,” who cast him in a small part. That and other bit roles led to a contract with Warner Bros., which featured him in several movies — including “Sayonara” (1957), starring Marlon Brando and based on James Michener’s novel set in Japan about interracial romance — and sliced the first syllable from his last name.
His first lead role was in “Darby’s Rangers” (1958) as the World War II hero William Darby, a part he was given after Charlton Heston walked off the set in a dispute with the studio over money. At about the same time he was cast as the womanizing gambler Bret Maverick, the role that made him a star.
Alone among westerns of the 1950s, “Maverick,” which made its debut in 1957, was about an antihero. He didn’t much care for horses or guns, and he was motivated by something much less grand than law and order: money. But you rooted for him because he was on the right side of moral issues, he had a natural affinity for the little guy being pushed by the bully, and he was more fun than anyone else.
“If you look at Maverick and Rockford, they’re pretty much the same guy,” Mr. Garner wrote. “One is a gambler and the other a detective, but their attitudes are identical.”
In a Maverick-like (or Rockford-like) move, Mr. Garner left the series in 1960 after winning a breach-of-contract suit against Warner Bros. over its refusal to pay him during a writers’ strike. He did not return to series television for a decade.
He found steady work in movies, however. In “The Children’s Hour” (1961), an adaptation of Lillian Hellman’s play, he played a doctor engaged to a schoolteacher (Audrey Hepburn) accused of being a lesbian. He appeared uncomfortable in that earnest role, but he was winning and warm in “The Great Escape” (1963), the World War II adventure about captured Allied fliers plotting to break out of a German prison camp, as Bob Hendley, the resourceful prisoner known as the Scrounger.
In 1964 he starred with Julie Andrews in “The Americanization of Emily,” which he called his favorite of all his films. He played the personal attendant of a Navy admiral, a fish out of water and the voice of the movie’s pacifist point of view.
Written by Paddy Chayefsky, it included perhaps the longest and most impassioned speech of his career: “I don’t trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham,” he said, in part. “It’s always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a hell it is. And it’s always the widows who lead the Memorial Day parades.”
In 1966, he starred as an avenging frontier scout in the violent western “Duel at Diablo” and as a high-speed driver in “Grand Prix,” a film that sparked his interest in auto racing. He drove in the Baja 1000 off-road race several times, and he drove the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 in 1975, 1978 and 1985.
He also appeared in romantic comedies, including three in 1963: “The Thrill of It All” and “Move Over, Darling,” both with Doris Day, and “The Wheeler Dealers,” opposite Lee Remick. There was also a comic western, “Support Your Local Sheriff” (1969), and a follow-up, “Support Your Local Gunfighter” (1971). Other notable films included “Victor/Victoria” (1982), in which he was reunited with Ms. Andrews and played a man who falls in love with a woman even though she has been masquerading as a man.
Mr. Garner was often injured on the job; during the Rockford years, he had several knee operations and back trouble. More seriously, in 1988, he had a quintuple bypass operation, which cost him his job as spokesman for the beef industry.
After surgery, he made a vigorous return to work. He appeared in the television films “My Name Is Bill W” (1989), starring James Woods as a founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and “Barbarians at the Gate” (1993), based on the best-selling book about the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco; in “My Fellow Americans” (1996), a comic adventure in which he and Jack Lemmon played feuding former presidents who find themselves framed by the sitting president and end up together on the lam; and in the romantic film “The Notebook” (2004).
He also reprised his Rockford character in several television movies and appeared in the movie version of “Maverick” (1994) as Marshal Zane Cooper, a foil to the title character, played by Mel Gibson.
Of Mr. Garner’s other forays into series television, “Nichols” was said to have been his own favorite. A dark comic western set in Arizona in the early 20th century that was produced by Cherokee in 1971, it starred Mr. Garner as a retired soldier who becomes sheriff of his hometown. When NBC canceled it after one season, Mr. Garner was so incensed that he had his character killed in the final episode.
He later had recurring roles on a number of shows, including “Chicago Hope,” “First Monday” and “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter”; in the short-lived animated series “God, the Devil and Bob,” he was the voice of God.
Mr. Garner disdained the pretentiousness of the acting profession. “I’m a Methodist but not as an actor,” he wrote in “The Garner Files.” “I’m from the Spencer Tracy school: Be on time, know your words, hit your marks, and tell the truth. I don’t have any theories abut acting, and I don’t think about how to do it, except that an actor shouldn’t take himself too seriously, and shouldn’t try to make acting something it isn’t. Acting is just common sense. It isn’t hard if you put yourself aside and just do what the writer wrote.”
Nor did he sit still for the dog-eat-dog business side of Hollywood. In the early 1980s he again sued his employer, this time Universal, which he accused of cheating him out of his share of profits on “The Rockford Files.” Universal settled the case in 1989, reportedly paying him more than $14 million.
Mr. Garner, a lifelong Democrat who was active in behalf of civil rights and environmental causes, always said he met his wife, the former Lois Clarke, in 1956 at a presidential campaign rally for Adlai Stevenson, though in “The Garner Files” Mrs. Garner said they had actually met at a party earlier. She survives him, as do their daughter, Greta, known as Gigi; and Mrs. Garner’s daughter from a previous marriage, Kimberly.
Persuasively ambivalent as a hero of westerns, war movies and detective stories, Mr. Garner’s performances may have reflected his feelings about his profession.
“I was never enamored of the business, never even wanted to be an actor, really,” he told The New York Times in 1984. “It’s always been a means to an end, which is to make a living.”
An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of the co-author of James Garner’s 2011 autobiography, “The Garner Files.” He is Jon Winokur, not Vinokur. It also erroneously included a survivor. Mr. Garner’s brother Jack died in 2011.
NADINE GORDIMER, NOVELIST WHO TOOK ON APARTHEID
Her family announced her death in a statement.
Ms. Gordimer did not originally choose apartheid as her subject as a young writer, she said, but she found it impossible to dig deeply into South African life without striking repression. And once the Afrikaner nationalists came to power in 1948, the scaffolds of the apartheid system began to rise around her and could not be ignored.
“I am not a political person by nature,” Ms. Gordimer said years later. “I don’t suppose, if I had lived elsewhere, my writing would have reflected politics much, if at all.”
But whether by accident of geography or literary searching, she found her themes in the injustices and cruelties of her country’s policies of racial division, and she left no quarter of South African society unexplored, from the hot, crowded cinder-block neighborhoods and tiny shebeens of the black townships to the poolside barbecues, hunting parties and sundowner cocktails of the white society.
Through Ms. Gordimer’s work, international readers learned the human effects of the “color bar” and the punishing laws that systematically sealed off each avenue of contact among races. Her books are rich with terror: The fear of the security forces pounding on the door in the middle of the night is real, and freedom is impossible. Even the political prisoner released from jail is immediately rearrested after experiencing the briefest illusion of returning to the world.
Critics have described the whole of her work as constituting a social history as told through finely drawn portraits of the characters who peopled it.
Ms. Gordimer told little about her own life, preferring to explore the intricacies of the mind and heart in those of her characters. “It is the significance of detail wherein the truth lies,” she once said.
But some critics saw in her fiction a theme of personal as well as political liberation, reflecting her struggles growing up under the possessive, controlling watch of a mother trapped in an unhappy marriage.
Ms. Gordimer was the author of more than two dozen works of fiction, including novels and collections of short stories in addition to personal and political essays and literary criticism. Her first book of stories, “Face to Face,” appeared in 1949, and her first novel, “The Lying Days,” in 1953. In 2010, she published “Telling Times: Writing and Living, 1954-2008,” a weighty volume of her collected nonfiction.
Banned Novels and a Nobel
Three of Ms. Gordimer’s books were banned in her own country at some point during the apartheid era — 1948 to 1994 — starting with her second novel, “A World of Strangers,” published in 1958. It concerns a young British man, newly arrived in South Africa, who discovers two distinct social planes that he cannot bridge: one in the black townships, to which one group of friends is relegated; the other in the white world of privilege, enjoyed by a handful of others he knows.
“A World of Strangers” was banned for 12 years and another novel, “The Late Bourgeois World” (1966), for 10: long enough to be fatal to most books, Ms. Gordimer noted. “The Late Bourgeois World” deals with a woman who faces a difficult choice when her ex-husband, a traitor to the anti-apartheid resistance, commits suicide.
The third banned novel was one of her best known, “Burger’s Daughter,” the story of the child of a family of revolutionaries who seeks her own way after her father becomes a martyr to the cause. It was unavailable in South Africa for only months rather than years after it was published in 1979, in part because by then its author was internationally known.
Ms. Gordimer was never detained or persecuted for her work, though there were always risks to writing openly about the ruling repressive regime. One reason may have been her ability to give voice to perspectives far from her own, like those of colonial nationalists who had created and thrived on the system of institutionalized oppression that was named the “grand apartheid” (from the Afrikaans word for “apartness”) when it became law.
Her ability to slip inside a life completely different from her own took her beyond the borders of white and black to explore other cultures under the boot of apartheid. In the 1983 short story “A Chip of Glass Ruby,” she entered an Indian Muslim household, and in the novel “My Son’s Story” (1990), she wrote of a mixed-race character. She won the Booker Prize in 1974 for “The Conservationist,” which had a white male protagonist.
Long before the struggle against apartheid was won, some of her books looked ahead to its overthrow and a painful national rebirth. In “July’s People” (1981), a violent war for equality has come to the white suburbs, driving out the ruling minority. In a reversal of roles, July, a black servant, brings his employers, a white family, to his isolated village, where he can protect them.
Ms. Gordimer wrote: “The decently-paid and contented male servant, living in their yard since they had married, clothed by them in two sets of uniforms, khaki pants for rough housework, white drill for waiting at table, given Wednesdays and alternate Sundays free, allowed to have his friends visit him and his town woman sleep with him in his room — he turned out to be the chosen one in whose hands their lives were to be held; frog prince, saviour, July.”
In “A Sport of Nature” (1987), the white wife of an assassinated black leader becomes, with a new husband, the triumphant first lady of a country rising from the rubble of the old order.
Perhaps surprisingly, Ms. Gordimer’s books were not the product of someone who had grown up in a household where the politics of race were discussed. Rather, Ms. Gordimer said, in her world, the minority whites lived among blacks “as people live in a forest among trees.”
It was not her country’s problems that set her to writing, she said. “On the contrary,” she wrote in an essay, “it was learning to write that sent me falling, falling through the surface of the South African way of life.”
Nadine Gordimer was born to Jewish immigrant parents on Nov. 20, 1923, in Springs, a mining town in the province now known as Gauteng (formerly part of the vast northeastern area referred to as the Transvaal). Her father, Isidore Gordimer, a watchmaker who had been driven by poverty to emigrate from Lithuania, eventually established his own jewelry store. Her mother, the former Nan Myers, had moved with her family from Britain and never stopped thinking of it as home.
Theirs was an unhappy marriage.
“I suspect she was sometimes in love with other men,” Ms. Gordimer said in a 1983 interview with The Paris Review, “but my mother would never have dreamt of having an affair.” Instead she poured her energy, sometimes to a smothering degree, into raising Nadine and her older sister, Betty.
As a child, Ms. Gordimer recalled, she was a brash show-off who loved to dance and dreamed of becoming a ballerina. But her mother insisted that she stop dancing, because she had a rapid heartbeat. When she was 10, her mother pulled her out of the convent school she attended, telling her daughter that participating in running and swimming could harm her.
Years later, Ms. Gordimer said she learned that the rapid heartbeat was a result of an enlarged thyroid, and that it did not pose the danger her mother had implied. She came to believe that her supposed ill health had dovetailed with her mother’s hunger for romance.
“The chief person she was attracted to was our family doctor,” she told The Paris Review. “There’s no question. I’m sure it was quite unconscious, but the fact that she had this delicate daughter, about whom she could be constantly calling the doctor — in those days doctors made house calls, and there would be tea and cookies and long chats — made her keep my ‘illness’ going in this way.”
Childhood Reflected in Fiction
Scholars and critics have found threads from Ms. Gordimer’s childhood running through her fiction. John Cooke, in his book “The Novels of Nadine Gordimer: Private Lives/Public Landscapes,” saw “the liberation of children from unusually possessive mothers” as a central theme in Ms. Gordimer’s work. In novel after novel, he wrote, “daughters learn that truly leaving ‘the mother’s house’ requires leaving ‘the house of the white race.’ ”
It took Ms. Gordimer years to tear herself from her mother’s house.
Removed from school, Ms. Gordimer said, she became a “little old woman,” studying with a tutor and accompanying her mother to social engagements. The antidote to her isolation was reading, she said.
In 1945, she attended the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and thrived in what she called the “nursery bohemia” of university life, studying literature and deciding to pursue a writing life.
With the exception of a trip to what is now known as Zimbabwe, it was not until she was 30 that she ventured outside South Africa.
In 1949, Ms. Gordimer married a dentist, Gerald Gavron, and they had a daughter, Oriane. The marriage ended in divorce in 1952. Two years later, she married Reinhold H. Cassirer, an art dealer who had fled Nazi Germany and was a nephew of the philosopher Ernst Cassirer. Their son, Hugo, was born in 1955. Reinhold Cassirer died in 2001; her son and her daughter survive her.
Ms. Gordimer said little about her personal life in interviews. Journalists commonly noted her impatience with certain personal questions, sometimes describing her response as disdainful and irritable.
She did mention flirtations on occasion. “My one preoccupation outside the world of ideas was men,” she once said, without providing details.
She never wrote an autobiography. “Autobiography,” she said in 1963, “can’t be written until one is old, can’t hurt anyone’s feelings, can’t be sued for libel, or, worse, contradicted.”
She was, however, the subject of a 2005 biography, “No Cold Kitchen,” which drew wide attention not least for the bitter fallout she had with its author, Ronald Suresh Roberts, a former Wall Street lawyer who had grown up in Trinidad. She had originally authorized the biography and granted him access, but she later withdrew the authorization, objecting to the manuscript and accusing the author of breach of trust. The publishers under contract for the book — Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the United States and Bloomsbury in Britain — declined to issue it. (Both were publishers of Ms. Gordimer’s work.)
The biography was eventually published by a small South African house and was the talk of literary South Africa for its accusation that Ms. Gordimer had admitted to fabricating key elements in an autobiographical essay in The New Yorker in 1954. It also paints Ms. Gordimer as a hypocritical white liberal whose words masked a paternalistic attitude toward black South Africa.
When the Nobel committee awarded Ms. Gordimer the literature prize in 1991, it took note of her political activism but observed, “She does not permit this to encroach on her writings.”
That sentiment was one she said she clung to throughout her career. In 1975, she wrote in the introduction to her “Selected Stories”: “The tension between standing apart and being fully involved; that is what makes a writer. That is where we begin.”
In later interviews, she said that no one could live in a society like South Africa’s and stay isolated from politics. Looking back, she told an interviewer in 1994, “The fact that my books were perceived as being so political was because I lived my life in this society that was so much changed by conflict, by political conflict, which of course in practical terms is human conflict.”
She never stopped grappling with politics, despite her disdain for the polemical. And book by book, she crept closer to reconciling her writing with her political self. What she did not want to do, she said, was to write in the service of the anti-apartheid movement, despite her deep contempt for the government system. Over time, she revealed that she had been far from passive when politics touched her personally. She passed messages; hid friends, including high-ranking figures, who were trying to elude the police; and secretly drove others to the border. All these actions appear in her fiction, carried out by characters much braver than she portrayed herself to be.
The great victory, the end of apartheid, is not the end of the knotty moral problems those characters confront. In “None to Accompany Me,” published in 1994, the year Nelson Mandela was elected president in the country’s first fully democratic vote, one subplot concerns a black political exile, Didymus Maqoma, who comes home only to find that he has no place in the current struggle. Despite his sacrifices, he is overlooked by the post-revolutionary leaders in favor of his wife.
Reading Ms. Gordimer’s work is a reminder that the noose around South Africans tightened by increments, with ever stricter laws followed by correspondingly dimmer expectations. Critics have said that the tone of Ms. Gordimer’s writing fluctuated with the political climate, with an air of hope giving way to a sense of bleakness as racial violence gathered force.
Walls Come Tumbling Down
Some of her most difficult moments came in the 1970s, when the black consciousness movement sought to exclude whites from the fight for majority rule. That period cut her off from many intellectuals and artists and left her work vulnerable to criticism from many black Africans, who contended that a white author could never authentically tell a story through the eyes of a black character.
Ms. Gordimer fought off that accusation, saying, “There are things that blacks know about whites that we don’t know about ourselves, that we conceal and don’t reveal in our relationships — and the other way about.”
In the end, the government was too weak to enforce its laws while contending with armed opposition within and economic and political pressure from outside. In 1990, Mr. Mandela was released from prison; in 1991, apartheid laws were repealed; in 1993, a new Constitution was approved, and in 1994, the walls came tumbling down with the election.
During that exhilarating period, when Mr. Mandela’s African National Congress party regained legal standing, Ms. Gordimer, who had been a secret member, paid her dues in person and got a party card.
It was then, after the release of the man who would be president within a few years, that Ms. Gordimer won the Nobel Prize. “Mandela still doesn’t have a vote,” she said at the time.
Ms. Gordimer went on writing after apartheid, resisting the idea that its demise had deprived her of her great literary subject. It “makes a big difference in my life as a human being,” she said, “but it doesn’t really affect me in terms of my work, because it wasn’t apartheid that made me a writer, and it isn’t the end of apartheid that’s going to stop me.”
But there were critics who thought she had lost her bearings. In a review of her 1998 novel, “The House Gun,” in which a white South African husband and wife see their only son go on trial for the murder of a friend, Michiko Kakutani wrote in The New York Times that the book suggested that the author “has yet to come to terms, artistically, with the dismantling of apartheid and her country’s drastically altered social landscape.”
She ventured into an Arab country in her 2001 novel, “The Pickup,” and continued to write prolifically for years after apartheid became history. Politically, she eventually embraced other causes, among them the fight against the spread of the H.I.V. virus and AIDS in South Africa and a writers’ campaign against the country’s punishing secrecy law.
In the end, one of her greatest fears proved hollow. Although Ms. Gordimer was immensely gratified to receive the Nobel, its valedictory connotations led her to worry about what it said to the world about her future.
“When I won the Nobel Prize,” she said, “I didn’t want it to be seen as a wreath on my grave.”
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this obituary misstated the day of Ms. Gordimer’s death. It was Sunday, not Monday. That version also misstated the location to which the white characters flee with their black servant in the novel “July’s People.” It is an isolated rural village, not the township of Soweto.
JOHNNY WINTER, VIRTUOSIC BLUES GUITARIST
Mr. Winter’s family was awaiting information about the cause, a spokeswoman, Carla Parisi, said on Thursday.
A virtuosic, high-energy blues guitarist, Mr. Winter was perhaps as well known for his appearance as he was for his playing. Tall and thin, with pinkish eyes and chalk-white skin and hair, he — like his brother and occasional collaborator, Edgar, a keyboardist and saxophonist — had albinism, a fact that commentators rarely failed to mention. “If you can imagine a 130-pound, cross-eyed albino with long fleecy hair playing some of the gutsiest, fluid blues guitar you ever heard, then enter Johnny Winter,” Rolling Stone wrote in a 1968 article that introduced Mr. Winter, then 24, to the wider public and the music business.
In less than a year he would sign a lucrative contract with Columbia Records, perform at Woodstock and be widely hailed and hyped as one of the most talented guitarists of his generation. Performing blues standards like “Good Morning Little School Girl” with a fiery touch, he became a fixture on the rock touring circuit and had solid record sales during his 1970s peak.
John Dawson Winter III was born on Feb. 23, 1944, in Beaumont, Tex., and took to music while still very young, playing clarinet, ukulele and eventually guitar.
When Mr. Winter was 11, he and Edgar, who is two years younger, performed Everly Brothers songs at local talent shows, and by 15 he had cut his first record: the Chuck Berry-esque “School Day Blues,” credited to Johnny and the Jammers, one of his many teenage bands. Around that time Mr. Winter also discovered the music of blues heroes like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, and their sound became his lifelong muse.
“I loved the blues,” Mr. Winter told Look magazine in 1969. “You can feel that nobody cares about you, and you sing, and it doesn’t make any difference and you don’t care. It’s not a happy feeling, it’s not sad. You can cry, and it’s good.”
His first album with Columbia, called simply “Johnny Winter,” arrived in mid-1969 on a wave of media attention. (An earlier LP, “The Progressive Blues Experiment,” released by a small Texas label, was hastily reissued to capitalize on the publicity.)
A second Columbia album, “Second Winter,” came out soon after, followed by “Johnny Winter And,” on which he introduced a new backing band featuring the guitarist Rick Derringer. That album included a Derringer song, “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” that would become a Top 40 hit when rerecorded by Mr. Derringer as a solo artist a few years later.
Mr. Winter continued to record and tour prolifically in the ’70s, and he was also open about the drug problems that he developed along the way. In 1973, after taking a brief break, he released “Still Alive and Well,” one of his best-selling albums. In 1976 he released “Together,” a live album with his brother, Edgar, who survives him, as does Mr. Winter’s wife, Susan Warford Winter.
In 1977 Mr. Winter began a series of collaborations with Mr. Waters, producing his album “Hard Again.” That record, and two that followed in the late ’70s, won acclaim for their raw sound, and each won a Grammy Award. From there Mr. Winter’s own albums increasingly focused on the blues. His most recent, “Roots” (2011), features songs by Robert Johnson, Elmore James and Little Walter.
Mr. Winter has been ranked the 63rd greatest guitar player of all time by Rolling Stone, and throughout his career he and his musicianship have been particularly admired by other musicians.
“Roots” features guest appearances by the guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks of the Allman Brothers, the country star Vince Gill and many others, including Edgar Winter. His next release, “Step Back,” scheduled for September, features the guitarists Eric Clapton, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Joe Perry of Aerosmith.
ELAINE STRITCH, BROADWAY’S ENDURING DAME
Her death was confirmed by a friend, Julie Keyes. Before Ms. Stritch moved to Birmingham last year to be near her family, she lived for many years at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan.
Ms. Stritch’s career began in the 1940s and spanned almost 70 years. She made her fair share of appearances in movies, including Woody Allen’s “September” (1987) and “Small Time Crooks” (2000), and on television; well into her 80s, she had a recurring role on the NBC comedy “30 Rock” as the domineering mother of the television executive played by Alec Baldwin.
But the stage was her true professional home. Whether in musicals, nonmusical dramas or solo cabaret shows, she drew audiences to her with her whiskey voice, her seen-it-all manner and the blunt charisma of a star.
In April 2013, before she left the Carlyle, where she had often performed in its cabaret lounge, Café Carlyle, she gave one last show: “Elaine Stritch at the Carlyle: Movin’ Over and Out.” A documentary film, “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,” was released this year.
Plain-spoken, egalitarian, impatient with fools and foolishness, and admittedly fond of cigarettes, alcohol and late nights — she finally gave up smoking and drinking in her 60s, after learning she had diabetes, though she returned to alcohol in her 80s — Ms. Stritch might be the only actor ever to work as a bartender after starring on Broadway, and she was completely unabashed about her good-time-girl attitude.
“I’m not a bit opposed to your mentioning in this article that Frieda Fun here has had a reputation in the theater, for the past five or six years, for drinking,” she said to a reporter for The New York Times in 1968. “I drink, and I love to drink, and it’s part of my life.”
In an interview this year in The New York Times Magazine, she said of her resumption of drinking: “I’m almost 89, I’m gonna have a drink a day or two. I know how to handle it, so there.”
Most of the time she was equally unabashed onstage, rarely if ever leaving the sensually astringent elements of her personality behind when she performed. A highlight of her early stage career was the 1952 revival of “Pal Joey,” the Rodgers and Hart-John O’Hara musical, in which she played a shrewd, ambitious reporter recalling, in song, an interview with Gypsy Rose Lee; she drew bravas for her rendition of the striptease parody “Zip.”
In a nonsinging role in William Inge’s 1955 drama, ”Bus Stop,” she received a Tony nomination as the lonely but tough-talking owner of a Kansas roadside diner where a group of travelers takes refuge during a snowstorm. Three years later, in her first starring role on Broadway, “Goldilocks,” a musical comedy by Jean and Walter Kerr and the composer Leroy Anderson, she played a silent film star alongside Don Ameche and impressed The Times’s critic Brooks Atkinson.
“Miss Stritch can destroy life throughout the country with the twist she gives to the dialogue,” he wrote. “She takes a wicked stance, purses her mouth thoughtfully and waits long enough to devastate the landscape.”
Noël Coward, one of Ms. Stritch’s fans, built the 1961 musical “Sail Away” around her role as Mimi Paragon, the effervescent hostess of a cruise ship, and she repaid his trust not only by giving what Howard Taubman of The Times said “must be the performance of her career” (including a delicious rendition of Coward’s hilariously snooty “Why Do the Wrong People Travel?”) but also by successfully ad-libbing, on opening night, when a poodle in the cast betrayed its training onstage.
The show was not a hit, but Ms. Stritch came away with her third Tony nomination. Her next Broadway role was in the replacement cast of Edward Albee’s scabrous portrait of a marriage, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” as Martha, the bitter, boozy wife.
One of her memorable appearances was in the Stephen Sondheim musical “Company”(1970), in which, as a cynical society woman, she saluted her peers with the vodka-soaked anthem “The Ladies Who Lunch.” The performance brought her another Tony nomination, and the tune became her signature — at least until, in her 70s, she became known for Sondheim’s paean to showbiz longevity and survival, “I’m Still Here.”
That song was the centerpiece of her 2001 one-woman show, “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” and she sang it in 2010 at Mr. Sondheim’s 80th-birthday concert at Lincoln Center and at the White House for President Obama.
Essentially a spoken-and-sung theater memoir, “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” created with the New Yorker critic John Lahr, began performances at the Public Theater in Manhattan when Ms. Stritch was 76 and then moved to Broadway, where it was a smash.
Alone onstage except for a chair, clad only in tights and a white silk shirt, Ms. Stritch wove together music (including “Zip,” “The Ladies Who Lunch,” “I’m Still Here” and two more Sondheim songs: “The Little Things You Do Together,” a mordant salute to marriage from “Company,” and the aging showgirl’s lament “Broadway Baby,” from “Follies”) and showbiz memories into a tour de force that won a Tony Award for best special theatrical event.
“I’m a do-it-yourself kind of broad,” Ms. Stritch told The Guardian in 2008, when she performed the show in London. It was an apt description of herself and the performance, which opened with her entering and declaring to the audience, “Well, as the prostitute once said, ‘It’s not the work, it’s the stairs.’ ”
Born in Detroit on Feb. 2, 1925, Ms. Stritch was the youngest of three daughters of George and Mildred Stritch. She went to a convent school but knew long before she graduated that she wanted a show business career.
When she was 4, for example, her father, an executive at B. F. Goodrich, took her to see a touring production of “The Ziegfeld Follies.” They went backstage to meet the star, the comedian Bobby Clark, who was a friend of her father’s. “From that moment on,” she recalled, “I was hooked.”
She was popular and seemingly carefree at school but struggled, she said, to overcome a deep-seated lack of confidence. By high school she had discovered that liquor helped mask her fears.
After graduation she told her parents she wanted to go to New York to study acting. They said she could go only if she agreed to live in a Manhattan convent. In 1944, she took the train to New York, moved into her convent room on the East Side and enrolled at the New School for Social Research, where she studied acting with Erwin Piscator. According to a story she told in “At Liberty,” her classmate Marlon Brando stopped speaking to her after she declined his invitation to spend the night at his apartment.
(Ms. Stritch, a Roman Catholic who said she was a virgin until she was 30, was no prude. Before she married in 1972, she was romantically linked with the actors Gig Young and Ben Gazzara and the restaurateur Joe Allen.)
She made her New York stage debut in a children’s play, “Bobino.” In 1947, she opened on Broadway in a musical revue, “Angel in the Wings,” in which she sang “Civilization,” a satirical number expressing an African’s thoughts about frightful aspects of modern life, including the lament: “Bongo bongo bongo, I don’t want to leave the Congo.”
In a short time she established herself as a promising actress who could also hurl a song lyric to the far reaches of the balcony. In 1950 she won the job of understudy to Ethel Merman in “Call Me Madam.” Merman stayed healthy, and Ms. Stritch never got to perform the role on Broadway, although she did star in the touring company. Then came “Pal Joey.”
She did some television work as well, live dramas as well as series like “My Sister Eileen” and “Wagon Train.” She almost landed the role of Trixie Norton on “The Honeymooners,” with Jackie Gleason, Art Carney and Audrey Meadows, but the part finally went to Joyce Randolph. Gleason, she explained, thought she was too much like him.
Ms. Stritch made her London stage debut in “Sail Away” in 1962, and appeared there again in 1972 in “Company.” Remaining in London, she met the American actor John Bay during rehearsals for a production of Tennessee Williams’s “Small Craft Warnings” and married him. In Britain, she won a wide following in stagings of American plays and as co-star of the television comedy series “Two’s Company,” in which she played a prickly American writer working at an English estate.
Ms. Stritch and her husband moved back to the United States in 1982, and he shortly died of a brain tumor. They had no children. Ms. Stritch is to be buried near him in Chicago. She is survived by many nieces and nephews.
In the mid-1980s, Woody Allen, dissatisfied with his film “September,” decided to reshoot it. Ms. Stritch accepted the part originally played by Maureen O’Sullivan while recuperating from surgery to have polyps removed from her vocal cords. She played the hard-drinking survivor of a roller-coaster life, a former glamour girl whose daughter, played by Mia Farrow, is both angry and depressed. Her performance initiated a fecund period of movie work.
Her other films included “Cocoon: The Return” (1988), which reunited her with Ameche; “Cadillac Man” (1990), with Robin Williams; “Autumn in New York” (2000), a May-December romance starring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder; and “Monster-in-Law” (2005), in which, as Jane Fonda’s mother-in-law, she delivers a blistering put-down: “You were a television weather woman from Dubuque, Mont. You drove around in a broken-down minivan, and you drank red wine — from a box!”
She also made guest appearances on television, on “The Cosby Show,” “Head of the Class,” “Law & Order,” “Oz” and “3rd Rock from the Sun.” Back on Broadway, she joined Harold Prince’s 1994 revival of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II musical “Show Boat.” Ms. Stritch played Parthy, the nagging wife of the showboat’s Cap’n Andy.
She went on to earn another Tony nomination in the Lincoln Center Theater’s 1996 revival of “A Delicate Balance,” Edward Albee’s ferocious dark comedy about an upper-class household in distress. She played the witty, bellicose houseguest of her sister (Rosemary Harris) and brother-in-law (George Grizzard).
When “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” was broadcast on HBO in 2004, Ms. Stritch added an Emmy to her collection of awards, but that was far from her final triumph. She also created a series of solo cabaret shows for Café Carlyle, including one that was a tribute to Sondheim.
“The blazingly here-and-now Ms. Stritch gives the word ‘trouper,’ a term of respect for stars who have trod the boards for decades, an almost mythological dimension,” Stephen Holden of The Times wrote in a review.
In May 2008, in a surprising change of pace, she appeared in a production of “Endgame,” Samuel Beckett’s grim comedy about mortality, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. As inhabitants of a bleak netherworld, she and her onstage husband (Alvin Epstein) lived in oversize garbage cans.
Ms. Stritch performed at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., in June 2009 in a production of “The Full Monty,” based on the 1997 British film comedy about a group of unemployed steelworkers who decide to perform as male strippers. Ms. Stritch, who played the group’s rehearsal pianist, said in an interview that she was “happy to be doing something that wasn’t all about me.”
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She made her final Broadway appearance in 2010, replacing Angela Lansbury as the aging Madame Armfeldt in a Broadway revival of “A Little Night Music.” It was a role that allowed her to sing once more of Mr. Sondheim’s rueful, mortality-defying musical meditations, “Liaisons,” an aching paean to love affairs past, and she brought to it an original and rather stinging bitterness about a life that is nearly over.
In “At Liberty,” Ms. Stritch earned one of her biggest laughs with a story about a long night of drinking with a friend. The story was ostensibly about the friend — Judy Garland — but it was self-reflective, too. Along about breakfast time, Ms. Stritch recalled, Garland turned to her.
“Elaine, I never thought I’d say this,” Garland said, “but good night.”