IN REMEMBRANCE: 1-18-2015

PHIL AFRICA, OF BLACK LIBERATION GROUP MOVE, LONG IN PRISON

Phil Africa, right, with Dick Gregory in Philadelphia in 1978. Credit Bill Ingraham/Associated Press

A prison spokeswoman, Robin Lucas, attributed the death to unspecified natural causes.

Move is best known for the 24-hour siege at one of its houses in Philadelphia in 1985 that ended when the state police dropped a bomb, touching off a fire — the worst in the city’s history — that left 11 people dead and destroyed more than 60 homes. Phil Africa was in prison at the time.

Born William Phillips on Jan. 1, 1956, he adopted the surname Africa, as did the other eight defendants in his case, which stemmed from an earlier effort to oust Move from its West Philadelphia headquarters.

At that time, the administration of Mayor Frank L. Rizzo demanded that the building be vacated because of sanitary and building code violations. Members of the group responded by arming themselves and transforming the building into a fortress. Phil Africa was convicted of third-degree murder in a shootout that followed months of conflict.

In addition to the officer who was fatally shot, James Ramp, four officers and five firefighters were injured.

“Rehabilitation in this case would be absurd,” Judge Edwin S. Malmed of the Court of Common Pleas declared in passing sentence in 1981. “Anyone not revolted by the events of that day just doesn’t have a sound mind.”

Ramona Africa, a spokeswoman for Move, said on its website that Mr. Africa was the second of the nine defendants to die in prison, and described his death as suspicious.

“This is another example of how the system hates Move and will do anything to stop Move,” she said, adding, “Phil was a father figure to many.”

Ms. Lucas, the prison spokeswoman, said Mr. Africa had been in the prison infirmary for about a week.

Information on his survivors was not available.

SOURCE

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JEAN-CLAUDE BAKER; RESTAURATEUR HONORED A CHANTEUSE

Jean-Claude Baker, right, and Josephine Baker in 1973.

The cause was suicide, said Patrick Pacheco, a theater reporter and friend. Mr. Baker’s body was discovered in his car, Mr. Pacheco said.

Mr. Baker led a colorful and many-faceted life populated by boldface names. Living on his own in Paris by the time he was 14, he became a shrewd worker in hotels and restaurants with a gift for charming the clientele; while working at Le Pavillon Dauphine in 1960, he greeted the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev, who, emerging from a limousine, reportedly kissed him on the lips.

A few years later Mr. Baker moved to West Berlin, where he had a career as a singer — he recorded under the name Jean-Claude Rousseau — and opened a nightclub called the Pimm’s Club. Sometimes called the Studio 54 of that era, it drew a mix of gay and straight customers and a glittering international crowd, including Mick Jagger, Mahalia Jackson, Leonard Bernstein, Rudolf Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn, Jessye Norman and Orson Welles.

Chez Josephine, a high-end brasserie and piano bar featuring luxuriant velvet curtains, red banquettes and Josephine Baker memorabilia, opened in 1986 on 42nd Street, between Ninth and 10th Avenues. It was an anchor in the transformation of a grim strip of real estate into an Off Broadway theater district.

From the start Chez Josephine was an eccentric pre- and post-theater spot — many Broadway theaters are within walking distance — and with its ripe décor redolent of Paris from an earlier age and Mr. Baker’s effervescent hospitality, it gathered its own coterie of the famous.

One regular was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Mr. Baker told a reporter that to protect her privacy, he once allowed her to use the men’s room while he stood guard. If she had used the women’s room, he said, other women would have flocked in after her.

Mr. Baker was born Jean-Claude Julien Leon Tronville in Dijon, France, on April 18, 1943. He met Josephine Baker in 1958 at the Hotel Scribe in Paris, where she was living at the time and where he was a teenage bellhop living on his own.

His parents, Constance Luce Tronville and Julien Rouzaud, were not married when he was born, though they married later, when Jean-Claude was 7 and then known by his father’s last name. Soon afterward, his father moved to Paris to work in a restaurant, and at 14, Jean-Claude went to search for him, leaving behind his mother and three younger sisters.

“What happened was, I found my father living in a hotel for prostitutes, where they rented rooms by the hour; he had gambled away all his money,” Mr. Baker wrote in the introduction to the biography “Josephine: The Hungry Heart,” written with Chris Chase. “Three days later, he disappeared, and didn’t come back.”

“Josephine listened to all this,” he wrote of their first encounter, “and then she said, ‘Don’t be worried, my little one; you have no father, but from today on, you will have two mothers.’ ”

They were not especially close at first, he wrote; their intimacy began when she went to Berlin in 1968, and he arranged for her to perform at the Pimm’s Club.

Her career was wobbly by then, but for much of the time before her death in 1975, Mr. Baker supported her, serving as manager, companion and amanuensis. He took her last name as his own in the early 1970s.

Mr. Baker is survived by his sisters, Marie-Josèphe Lottier, Marie-Annick Rouzaud and Martine Viellard.

Josephine Baker was notoriously difficult — self-involved and brilliant, capable of extraordinary kindness and extraordinary cruelty — and the colliding strains of her character, coupled with Mr. Baker’s complex relationship with her, drove him to write her biography, he said.

Their relationship also inspired him to amass an extensive collection of posters, paintings, documents and other memorabilia pertaining to early-20th-century African-American performers.

“Working with Chris Chase, Jean-Claude Baker has combined cultural and theatrical history with an intense Oedipal drama,” Margo Jefferson wrote in The New York Times about “The Hungry Heart.” “He met Baker when he was 14, and was unofficially adopted by her. Through the years she treated him like a son and like a serf.

“He read everything about her he could find, he writes, ‘because I loved her, hated her, and wanted desperately to understand her.’ Those emotions drove his book, and they drove him to do vast amounts of valuable research. The result is mesmerizing: a battle of wills with Josephine as the mastermind, concocting fables about her life, and Jean-Claude as the detective, breaking them down into facts.”

SOURCE

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AL BENDICH, DEFENDER OF ‘HOWL’ AND LENNY BRUCE’S COMEDY

Al Bendich, right, with Lenny Bruce, a client in a major case. Credit Al Bendich Collection

The apparent cause was a heart attack, his wife, Pamela Bendich, said.

Mr. Bendich was the last living member of the defense team in the “Howl” case, in which the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who had published and sold “Howl” in book form, stood trial in San Francisco in 1957.

He was the sole defense lawyer in the first of Bruce’s obscenity trials, in San Francisco in 1962. Of the four obscenity trials Bruce would go through, the San Francisco case was the only one to end in an acquittal.

“Al’s work set a standard for freedom of artistic expression,” the civil rights lawyer Michael E. Tigar said in a recent interview. “Can you imagine a world in which it could be a crime to say words that you can hear on cable TV every night? That’s the world of the Sixties, in which there were legal prohibitions of the work of Henry Miller and Allen Ginsberg and comedians such as Lenny Bruce. So this was pathbreaking.”

Al Bendich at Fantasy Records, where he helped the owner obtain the movie rights to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Credit Courtesy Saul Zaentz Company

More striking still is the fact that when Mr. Bendich wrote the brief in the “Howl” case — a document widely considered to have brought about the defense victory — he was just two years out of law school.

Albert Morris Bendich (pronounced BEN-dick) was born in New York City on June 18, 1929. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1950, followed by a master’s in economics and, in 1955, a law degree there. He joined the staff of the Northern California American Civil Liberties Union in 1957.

That June, the United States Supreme Court had issued a ruling in an obscenity case, Roth v. United States, which deemed speech found to be obscene an exception to First Amendment protections.

“It said that this subcategory of sexually oriented expression is completely beyond the First Amendment pale — it can be absolutely criminalized,” Nadine Strossen, a past president of the national A.C.L.U., explained in an interview. “And that had an enormous chilling impact.”

Mr. Ferlinghetti’s trial was scheduled to start soon; he had been charged with publishing and selling obscene material after he offered copies of “Howl” for sale in the City Lights bookstore, the San Francisco institution he had helped found. The Roth ruling carried potentially grave implications for “Howl,” which was rife with sexually explicit language.

“It was incredibly important to provide persuasive arguments to the judge in that case about how he should construe the Supreme Court exception narrowly,” Ms. Strossen said. “And in such a way that it didn’t extend to ‘Howl’ or City Lights bookstore.”

Mr. Ferlinghetti’s trial — a bench trial, with no jury — opened in San Francisco Municipal Court on Aug. 16, 1957, before Judge Clayton W. Horn. The defense team was led by Jacob W. Ehrlich, a larger-than-life litigator given to sartorially extravagant courtroom presentations.

“He wore cuff links that at the time cost $25,000” — more than $200,000 today — Ronald K. L. Collins, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law who has written about the case, said in an interview. (“Sam Benedict,” a television series starring Edmond O’Brien and based on Mr. Ehrlich’s career, was broadcast on NBC from 1962 to 1963.)

Mr. Ehrlich, assisted by the civil liberties lawyer Lawrence Speiser, would handle most of the courtroom arguments.

“Jake Ehrlich spent most of our time reading from books like ‘Moll Flanders’ to prove that this was nothing new,” Mr. Ferlinghetti said in an interview on Tuesday. “And we were left with only a few minutes at the very end for Al to make the constitutional points on which the case was won.”

It also fell to Mr. Bendich — “the guy at the bottom of the totem pole,” Mr. Collins said — to write the crucial document known familiarly as a brief but more formally as a legal memorandum. Judge Horn would consult it in drawing up his ruling.

In Judge Horn, a Sunday school teacher in his spare time, the defense seemingly could not have drawn a less sympathetic jurist.

“He’s a man of the Lord,” said Mr. Collins, whose 2013 book, “Mania,” written with David M. Skover, chronicles the “Howl” trial. “Before this case, five women were in his court for shoplifting. And what was the sentence he gave them? They had to go and watch the movie ‘The Ten Commandments’ ” — released in 1956 and then playing in theaters — “write an essay and then come back and read it to him in court.”

On Oct. 3, 1957, Judge Horn delivered his opinion. That he produced a written opinion was noteworthy in itself.

“Rarely if ever will a municipal judge get a First Amendment case,” Mr. Collins said. “If you think about the kind of cases he gets — traffic violations, littering — he’s not going to write an opinion in those cases.”

Mr. Bendich in 2000. He was an A.C.L.U. lawyer in the ’60s. Credit Steve Maruta

More than 4,000 words long, Judge Horn’s opinion concluded: “In considering material claimed to be obscene it is well to remember the motto ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense.’ (Evil to him who evil thinks.) Therefore, I conclude the book ‘Howl and Other Poems’ does have some redeeming social importance, and I find the book is not obscene.”

The full opinion mirrored, “in structure and substance, the central points that Al Bendich made in his memorandum,” Mr. Collins said. He added: “If you took into consideration Jake Ehrlich’s arguments and Speiser’s contributions, it may well be that they disposed the judge to rule the way that he did. But then he needed the law to support it, and that’s where Bendich comes in. To use a basketball analogy, they did the setup; he did the dunk.”

On Oct. 4, 1961, Bruce was arrested after a profanity-laden performance at a San Francisco nightclub. His trial began on March 5, 1962; Judge Horn again presided. The judge’s presence now seemed to augur well for the defense, but Bruce, ever the contrarian, demanded a jury trial.

“Bruce had this romanticized view of ‘the people,’ ” said Mr. Collins, also the author, with Mr. Skover, of “The Trials of Lenny Bruce” (2002). “So Bendich has to do two things if he plans to win this trial. He has to have an array of witnesses — sociologists and others — to support the idea that certain forms of ribald comedy really further the importance of comedy. He also has to be very skilled in cross-examining the state’s witnesses. But he does one more thing that will prove to be extremely important: He writes jury instructions” — the proposal that the judge considers, with that of the prosecution, before making his charge to the jury.

On March 8, the jury heard Judge Horn’s instructions, which were, Mr. Collins said, “either verbatim or very close to the ones Bendich gave him.” Retiring, they deliberated for 5 hours and 25 minutes before acquitting Bruce.

From newspaper interviews afterward, “it was pretty clear that if it weren’t for those instructions, they were going to convict,” Mr. Collins said.

A resident of Berkeley, Mr. Bendich taught speech at the University of California there in the 1960s. Other seminal cases on which he worked included Parrish v. Civil Service Commission, a 1967 California Supreme Court case that ensured the constitutional rights of recipients of public assistance.

At his death Mr. Bendich was a co-president of the Saul Zaentz Company, an entertainment concern in Berkeley. He joined the company, originally Fantasy Records, in the late 1960s; in the ’70s, after Mr. Zaentz began producing feature films, Mr. Bendich helped him secure the rights to Ken Kesey’s novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The film version, co-produced by Mr. Zaentz, was released in 1975.

Mr. Bendich’s first marriage, to Hilary Solomon, ended in divorce. Besides his wife, the former Pamela Strebel, his survivors include three children from his first marriage, Nora Bendich Oldwin, Jonathan Bendich and Bridget Bendich; a daughter from his second marriage, Adrianne Bendich Keffeler; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

More than half a century later, the “Howl” case and Bruce’s San Francisco trial remain high-water marks in First Amendment law.

“If it were not for Al Bendich making the constitutional points that won the ‘Howl’ trial for us, the prosecution of publishers who publish something that could be judged obscene would have gone on and on,” Mr. Ferlinghetti said. “But as it was, even though this was only a municipal court, this was a precedent that stood up all these years. It was no longer possible for some narrow-minded local authority to win a case against a book for obscenity.”

Throughout his courtroom career, Mr. Bendich’s ready wit stood him in good stead. This was perhaps nowhere more evident than in the Bruce trial, where, in his opening statement, he discussed the time-honored role of comedy as a vehicle for social criticism.

In his memoir, “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People,” Bruce recalled what transpired:

“We are going to prove, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that the nature of Mr. Bruce’s performance on the night of October the fourth was in the great tradition of social satire, related intimately to the kind of social satire to be found in the works of such great authors as Aristophanes, Jonathan Swift——”

The prosecutor would have none of this. “I’m going to object,” he interrupted. “Aristophanes is not testifying here.”

“Your Honor,” Mr. Bendich shot back, “I didn’t say I would call Mr. Aristophanes.”

SOURCE

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DOROTHY THOMAS, THE ‘MOTHER’ OF BONE MARROW TRANSPLANTS

Dorothy Thomas and her husband, Dr. E. Donnall Thomas. The couple worked together on research into transplants that could cure dying patients of leukemia. Credit Jim Linna

Her death was announced by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where her husband, Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, had been the director of the clinical research division.

In 1990, Dr. Thomas and another American shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for demonstrating to skeptics that transplanting organs and bone marrow could cure dying patients of leukemia and other forms of cancer.

Mrs. Thomas had worked so closely with her husband, helping to manage his research and write his papers, that Dr. George Santos, a transplant specialist at Johns Hopkins, said at the time that if Dr. Thomas was the father of bone marrow transplants, “then Dottie Thomas is the mother.”

Dr. Thomas, who died in 2012, once explained their partnership this way:

“In the laboratory days, my friends pointed out that Dottie, who had the library experience, would go to the library and look up all the background information for a study that we were going to do, and then she would go into the laboratory and do the work and get the data, and then with her writing skills, she’d write the paper and complete the bibliography,” he said. “All I would do is sign the letter to the editor.”

Dr. Fred Appelbaum, executive vice president and deputy director of the Hutchinson Center, recalled that “Dottie was there at Don’s side through every part of developing marrow transplantation as a science.”

She is survived by their children, Dr. E. Donnall Thomas Jr., Jeffrey Thomas, and Dr. Elaine Thomas; eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Dorothy Elaine Martin was born on Sept. 18, 1922, in San Antonio, Tex.

She was a freshman at the University of Texas when Dr. Thomas, a senior, was waiting tables in the girls’ dormitory. After breakfast one morning, students encountered a surprise snowstorm.

“This girl whacked me in the face with a snowball,” Dr. Thomas told The Seattle Times in 1999. “She still claims she was throwing it at another fellow and hit me by mistake. One thing led to another, and we seemed to hit it off.”

They married in 1942. Mrs. Thomas was majoring in journalism when her husband was admitted to Harvard Medical School. Since she liked science, she decided to change her profession.

She enrolled in a medical technology program at New England Deaconess Hospital, became a hematology technician, and worked part-time in Dr. Thomas’s laboratory while their children were small.

The couple moved to Seattle in 1963. Dr. Thomas joined the Hutchinson Center when it opened in 1975. For the next 15 years his wife served as the chief administrator for its clinical research division. Dr. Thomas left the clinical leadership position in 1990 but remained with the center until his death.

Dr. Thomas’s research provided ways to overcome resistance to transplants by patients’ immune systems and allowed doctors to cure thousands of patients who would otherwise have been doomed by leukemia and other blood cancers. When he was awakened at 3:40 a.m. by news of the Nobel Prize award in 1990, he responded magnanimously.

“I’m pleased for my wife and for me and for my team and for the cancer center,” he said.

SOURCE

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Helen Wills Moody, Tennis Champion, Dies at 92

(Jan. 3, 1998)

Calvin Coolidge, 30th President, Dies at 61

(Jan. 6, 1933)

Dizzy Gillespie, Jazz Giant, Dies at 75

(Jan. 7, 1993)

Hirohito, Japan’s Emperor, Dies at 87

(Jan. 7, 1989)

Emily Greene Balch, Pacifist, Dies at 94

(Jan. 11, 1961)

Coco Chanel, the Couturier, Dies at 87

(Jan. 11, 1971)

Ray Kroc, Man Behind McDonald’s, Dies at 81

(Jan. 15, 1984)

Ida Tarbell, Who Exposed Standard Oil Trust, Dies at 86

(Jan. 17, 1944)

Cecil De Mille, Movie Pioneer, Dies at 77

(Jan. 22, 1959)

Johnny Weissmuller, Athlete and Movie Tarzan, Dies at 79

(Jan. 22, 1984)

Lyndon Johnson, 36th President, Dies at 64

(Jan. 23, 1973)

Queen Victoria, Who Reigned for Six Decades, Dies at 82

(Jan. 23, 1901)

Al Capone, Gangster, Dies at 48

(Jan. 26, 1947)

Nellie Bly, Journalist, Dies at 56

(Jan. 28, 1922)

Mahalia Jackson, Singer and Civil Rights Symbol, Dies at 60

(Jan. 28, 1972)

Robert Frost, Poet, Dies at 88

(Jan. 30, 1963)

William Butler Yeats, Irish Poet and Playwright, Dies at 73

(Jan. 30, 1939)

Mohandas Gandhi, Hindu Reformer and Leader, Dies at 80

(Jan. 31, 1948)

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