IN REMEMBRANCE: 2-22-2015

ANNE MOODY, AUTHOR OF ‘COMING OF AGE IN MISSISSIPPI’

Anne Moody in 1963 being harassed alongside John Salter and Joan Trumpauer at a Woolworth’s. Credit Fred Blackwell/Jackson Daily News, via Associated Press

Her death was announced on the website of Representative Bennie G. Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi. Ms. Moody had had dementia in recent years.

Published in 1968, “Coming of Age in Mississippi” was Ms. Moody’s only work of nonfiction, and one of just two books she published during her lifetime. In unadorned, unflinching prose, it narrated her life from her early childhood through her involvement in the civil rights movement as a young woman.

Reviewing the memoir in The New York Times Book Review, Senator Edward M. Kennedy wrote that it “brings to life the sights and smells and suffering of rural poverty in a way seldom available to those who live far away.” He added: “Anne Moody’s powerful and moving book is a timely reminder that we cannot now relax in the struggle for sound justice in America or in any part of America. We would do so at our peril.”

Anne Moody in 1969. Credit Jack Schrier

A daughter of sharecroppers, Essie Mae Moody was born on Sept. 15, 1940, in Centreville, Miss.; she began calling herself Anne in her teens. As a girl, she cleaned white neighbors’ houses to help support her family.

After attending Natchez Junior College on a basketball scholarship, the young Ms. Moody enrolled in Tougaloo College, a historically black institution near Jackson, Miss., from which she received a bachelor’s degree in 1964. During these years she was active in civil rights efforts in Mississippi, working with the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

In 1963, Ms. Moody and another activist, Joan Trumpauer, were part of a racially mixed group in a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson. As a widely reproduced news photograph shows, a white mob poured condiments the protesters as they sat praying at the counter.

“I was snatched from my stool by two high school students,” Ms. Moody recounted in her memoir. “I was dragged about 30 feet toward the door by my hair when someone made them turn me loose.” She continued:

“The mob started smearing us with ketchup, mustard, sugar, pies and everything on the counter. Soon Joan and I were joined by John Salter, but the moment he sat down he was hit on the jaw with what appeared to be brass knuckles. Blood gushed from his face and someone threw salt into the open wound.”

Ms. Moody’s 1968 book “Coming of Age in Mississippi.” Credit Dell

In the 1960s Ms. Moody moved to New York, where she wrote “Coming of Age in Mississippi.” She lived quietly for decades, granting no interviews and holding a series of non-writing jobs, including as a counselor in a New York City antipoverty program, before returning to Mississippi.

Ms. Moody’s marriage to Austin Straus ended in divorce. Her survivors, according to Mr. Thompson’s office, include her son, Sascha Straus; four sisters, Adline Moody, Virginia Gibson, Frances Jefferson and Vallery Jefferson; and three brothers, Ralph Jefferson, James Jefferson and Kenneth Jefferson.

Her other book, “Mr. Death,” published in 1975, is a slender collection of short stories for young people on the theme of mortality.

In the 2014 edition of the reference work Contemporary Authors Online, an autobiographical statement from Ms. Moody illuminates both her departure from the civil rights movement and her comparative silence as a writer:

“In the beginning I never really saw myself as a writer,” she said. “I was first and foremost an activist in the civil rights movement in Mississippi.”

However, Ms. Moody continued, “I came to see through my writing that no matter how hard we in the movement worked, nothing seemed to change.” She added: “We were like an angry dog on a leash that had turned on its master. It could bark and howl and snap, and sometimes even bite, but the master was always in control.”

SOURCE

I read Ms. Moody’s memoir years ago and her heartfelt writing left quite an impression on me.

Ms. Moody lived during a time when the world for both Black and White citizens was changing:  change for the good for many White people; little to no change for black people. In the year 2015, the low value of black life is still ongoing.

I honor all that Ms. Moody and the many young Black and White people did who fought for a better life for me and the rest of America.

She will be missed.

Rest in peace, Ms. Anne Moody.

Rest in peace.

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LESLEY GORE, TEENAGE VOICE OF HEARTBREAK

Lesley Gore in May 1964 with a flower-covered record at her 18th birthday party at the Delmonico Hotel in New York. Credit Marty Lederhandler/Associated Press

Lois Sasson, her partner of 33 years, said Ms. Gore died of lung cancer at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

With songs like “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and the indelibly defiant 1964 single “You Don’t Own Me” — all recorded before she was 18 — Ms. Gore made herself the voice of teenage girls aggrieved by fickle boyfriends, moving quickly from tearful self-pity to fierce self-assertion.

“You Don’t Own Me,” written by John Madara and David White, originally reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has been repeatedly rerecorded and revived by performers including Dusty Springfield, Joan Jett and the cast of the 1996 movie “The First Wives Club.”

“When I heard it for the first time, I thought it had an important humanist quality,” Ms. Gore told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2010. “As I got older, feminism became more a part of my life and more a part of our whole awareness, and I could see why people would use it as a feminist anthem. I don’t care what age you are — whether you’re 16 or 116 — there’s nothing more wonderful than standing on the stage and shaking your finger and singing, ‘Don’t tell me what to do.’ ”

The singer in 2007. Credit Richard Drew/Associated Press

Ms. Gore was born Lesley Sue Goldstein on May 2, 1946, in Brooklyn. She grew up in Tenafly, N.J., eager to become a singer. She had just turned 16, a junior in high school, when her vocal coach had her make some piano-and-voice recordings. Those demos, with a youthful brightness in her voice, reached the producer Quincy Jones, who was then an A&R man at Mercury Records. He became her producer and mentor.

Ms. Gore recorded “It’s My Party” on March 30, 1963, and when Mr. Jones discovered that Phil Spector and the Crystals were also recording the song, he rush-released it within a week. It reached No. 1 and was followed onto the charts by “Judy’s Turn To Cry” — a sequel to “It’s My Party” that gets the boyfriend back — and other tales of teen romance like “She’s a Fool,” “That’s the Way Boys Are” and “Maybe I Know,” as well as “You Don’t Own Me.”

Ms. Gore was featured — with James Brown, the Rolling Stones, the Supremes and Marvin Gaye — in the 1964 concerts at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium that were documented as the “T.A.M.I. Show.” She also had moderate hits with some of the first Marvin Hamlisch songs to be recorded: “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” in 1965 and “California Nights” in 1967.

Yet at the peak of her pop career Ms. Gore was in school full time, majoring in English and American literature at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., where she graduated in 1968. She played an occasional television show or concert on weekends or during vacations.

“It would be very foolish of me to leave school to go into such an unpredictable field on a full-time basis,” she told an interviewer at the time.

Ms. Gore’s string of hits ended when girl-group pop gave way to psychedelia. But she kept performing — in movies, on television, on theater and club stages. She appeared in the 1960s “Batman” television series as the Pink Pussycat, one of Catwoman’s sidekicks.

Ms. Gore did not write her early hits. But after she was dropped by Mercury, she worked on becoming a songwriter. She moved to California in 1970, and her 1972 album, “Someplace Else Now,” was full of songs she wrote herself or with the lyricist Ellen Weston.

She reconnected with Mr. Jones for the 1975 album “Love Me by Name,” also filled with her own songs and drawing on guest performers including Herbie Hancock. But it, too, was largely ignored, as was “The Canvas Can Do Miracles,” an album of versions of 1970s pop hits released in 1982.

“Out Here on My Own,” a song Ms. Gore wrote with her brother, Michael Gore, for the soundtrack of the movie “Fame,” became a hit for Irene Cara in 1980 and was nominated for an Academy Award.

Ms. Gore lived in New York City. Besides Ms. Sasson, she is survived by her brother and her mother, Ronny Gore.

Ms. Gore returned to New York City in 1980 and continued to sing her oldies on the nostalgia circuit. She also performed in musical theater, including a stint in the Broadway production of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” She worked in television, hosting episodes of “In the Life,” a PBS newsmagazine series about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In 2005, she came out publicly as gay.

Her 2005 album, “Ever Since,” was full of reflective grown-up songs in cabaret style, along with a bitterly moody remake of “You Don’t Own Me.” Television shows picked up some of its tracks: “Better Angels” was heard on “C.S.I.,” and “Words We Don’t Say” was played on “The L Word.”

Ms. Gore was a headliner in 2011 at “She’s Got The Power,” a Lincoln Center Out of Doors concert devoted to the girl-group era. In 2012, “You Don’t Own Me” returned during the presidential election, as a feminist get-out-the-vote video. As it begins, Ms. Gore appears, announcing, “I’m Lesley Gore, and I approve this message.”

In recent years, Ms. Gore had been working on a memoir and a Broadway show based on her life.

SOURCE

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LOUIS JORDAN, SUAVE STAR IN EUROPE AND HOLLYWOOD

Louis Jourdan and Leslie Caron as the heroine in Vincente Minnelli’s musical “Gigi” (1958). Credit Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

His official biographer, Olivier Minne, announced the death.

Mr. Jourdan (his name was pronounced Lew-EE zhor-DON) had a reserved, quiet manner that lent his performances an aura of mystery and even of melancholy and that served him well in both sympathetic and unsympathetic roles.

His durability was remarkable, considering that his European screen career as well as his American one began inauspiciously.

Born Louis Henri Gendre in Marseilles on June 19, 1921, Mr. Jourdan attended acting school in Paris and was tapped for a role in the film “Le Corsaire,” directed by Marc Allégret. But the outbreak of World War II interrupted the production, and the movie was never completed.

He appeared in several films during the Occupation, often directed by Mr. Allégret, for whom he also sometimes worked as an assistant director. After his father, a hotelier, was arrested by the Gestapo, Mr. Jourdan joined the Resistance.

Mr. Jourdan as Prince Kamal Khan, the villain in the 1983 James Bond film “Octopussy.” Credit MGM/UA Entertainment

After the war he went to the United States and attracted the attention of the producer David O. Selznick, who cast him in the courtroom drama “The Paradine Case” (1947), very much against the wishes of the director, Alfred Hitchcock.

Mr. Jourdan’s character, a slightly sinister valet suspected of murdering his employer, was originally conceived as a rough, earthy type, which Mr. Jourdan was clearly not. Mr. Hitchcock referred to him as “a pretty-pretty boy” and complained that his casting “destroyed the whole point of the film.” (There appeared to be no lingering antagonism: Mr. Jourdan was among the mourners at Mr. Hitchcock’s funeral in 1980.)

Mr. Jourdan was more fortunate in his next Hollywood assignment, playing a concert pianist who seduces and abandons Joan Fontaine in Max Ophuls’s elegant romantic tragedy “Letter From an Unknown Woman” (1948). It was a role that allowed him to use his silky, hooded charm to memorably ambiguous effect, and to create, for one of the few times in his long career, a truly complex character — a hollow man who comes, in the end, to understand how much his hollowness has cost him.

The next year he won the important role of Rodolphe, the heroine’s lover, in Vincente Minnelli’s film version of “Madame Bovary.” For the next decade he appeared in many high-profile, big-budget studio pictures, usually performing the somewhat limited function of embodying Hollywood’s idea of the dashing, cultured, worldly European man.

His greatest success in this mode came when he starred opposite Leslie Caron in Mr. Minnelli’s musical “Gigi” (1958), a major hit that won nine Academy Awards, including best picture. (Mr. Jourdan was not nominated, for this or for any other movie in his career; “Gigi” did, however, earn him a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical.)

Between Hollywood jobs, Mr. Jourdan would occasionally return to Europe to make films, among them Jacques Becker’s “Rue de l’Estrapade” (1953). And in 1954 he took a shot at Broadway, playing the lead in a stage adaptation of André Gide’s novel “The Immoralist.” Although he received good reviews, his performance was partly eclipsed by that of a striking young actor in the supporting cast: James Dean.

After the 1950s, the Continental types that had been Mr. Jourdan’s bread and butter fell out of favor in American movies. For the last 30 years of his performing life Mr. Jourdan — still attractive and still impeccably dignified, but looking a bit more world-weary with every passing year — was cast more often as a Prince of Darkness than as Prince Charming. He played the oily Dr. Anton Arcane in Wes Craven’s “Swamp Thing” (1982) and its 1989 sequel, “The Return of Swamp Thing,” and the evil Kamal Khan, from whom James Bond is obliged to save the world, in “Octopussy” (1983).

Mr. Jourdan had the opportunity to play more nuanced villains on television. He was a guest murderer on “Columbo” in 1978, a year after he gave a seductive and chilling performance in the title role of “Count Dracula” on the BBC.

He was named as a chevalier, or knight, of the French Legion of Honor in 2010.

Mr. Jourdan was, by all accounts, well liked in Hollywood, but he kept his private life private. In 1946 he married Berthe Frederique; they remained married until her death last year. The couple had one child, Louis Henry Jourdan Jr., who died of a drug overdose in 1981, at 29. A brother, Pierre Jourdan, who was an actor and a theater director in France, died in 2007.

Louis Jourdan made his last appearance on screen in 1992, in the caper film “Year of the Comet.” He played the bad guy.

SOURCE

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Buster Keaton, Poker-Faced Comedian, Dies at 70

(Feb. 1, 1966)

Arthur Ashe, Tennis Star, Dies at 49

(Feb. 6, 1993)

Hussein, King Who Took Risks, Dies at 63

(Feb. 7, 1999)

Iris Murdoch, Novelist and Philosopher, Dies at 79

(Feb. 8, 1999)

Alex Haley, Author of ‘Roots,’ Dies at 70

(Feb. 10, 1992)

Charles Schulz, ‘Peanuts’ Creator, Dies at 77

(Feb. 12, 2000)

Ethel Merman, Queen of Musicals, Dies at 76

(Feb. 15, 1984)

Geronimo, Apache Chief, Dies

(Feb. 17, 1909)

Alfred P. Sloan Jr., G.M. Leader, Dies at 90

(Feb. 17, 1966)

Thelonious Monk, Jazz Composer, Dies at 64

(Feb. 17, 1982)

J. Robert Oppenheimer, Atom Bomb Pioneer, Dies at 62

(Feb. 18, 1967)

Deng Xiaoping, China’s Political Wizard, Dies at 92

(Feb. 19, 1997)

Frederick Douglass, Anti-Slavery Crusader, Dies

(Feb. 20, 1895)

Chester W. Nimitz, Who Built Pacific Fleet, Dies at 80

(Feb. 20, 1966)

George Ellery Hale, Astronomer, Dies at 69

(Feb. 21, 1938)

Elijah Muhammad, Black Muslim Leader, Dies at 77

(Feb. 25, 1975)

Mabel Cratty, Y.W.C.A. Leader, Dies at 60

(Feb. 27, 1928)

Henry R. Luce, Creator of Time-Life Empire, Dies at 68

(Feb. 28, 1967)

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