CYNTHIA ROBINSON, SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE TRUMPET PLAYER
NOV. 26, 2015
Sly and the Family Stone in their heyday, featuring from left, Rose Stone, Larry Graham, Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Greg Errico, Jerry Martini (seated) and Cynthia Robinson. Credit Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Cynthia Robinson, a trumpet player and original member of the seminal psychedelic-funk-soul group Sly and the Family Stone, died on Monday in Carmichael, Calif. She was 71.
The cause was cancer, Jerry Martini, a friend and bandmate, said.
Ms. Robinson joined Sly Stone in a short-lived group called Sly and the Stoners in 1966. Soon after, he asked her to be a member of the Family Stone, whose inclusion of black and white musicians of both sexes, and its hippie style, made it a living poster for the ideals of the counterculture.
In addition to supplying trumpet riffs, Ms. Robinson chipped in with vocals. At the beginning of “Dance to the Music,” the group’s first hit, she can be heard shouting, “Get on up and dance to the music!” and she is part of the punchy “hey, hey, hey” chorus in “I Want to Take You Higher.”
“Cynthia’s role in music history isn’t celebrated enough,” the producer and musician Questlove wrote on Instagram
. “Her & sister Rose”— Mr. Stone’s sister, a singer and keyboardist with the group — “weren’t just pretty accessories there to ‘coo’ & ‘shoo wop shoo bob’ while the boys got the glory. Naw. They took names and kicked ass while you were dancing in the aisle.”
With the rest of the band, Ms. Robinson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Cynthia Robinson was born on Jan. 12, 1944, in Sacramento. She played flute in elementary school, but there were no flutes available at her high school, and she was told to play the clarinet. Unhappy, she asked a fellow student, whom she had heard playing the trumpet in a practice room, if she could give his instrument a try.
“Everything I blew was off key, but I knew it could sound good if you worked on it, and that’s what I wanted to do,” she told the online magazine Rookie
Playing the trumpet put her in conflict with the boys at her school, who considered the trumpet strictly a male instrument. “It left me with the impression that, you know, no guy in the world would let a girl play the trumpet in his group,” she said in a 1993 interview
for the Boston public radio station WGBH.
Her first trumpet belonged to a beatnik, who told her she could have it if she played at one of his parties. “It smelled bad, it had all kinds of green crud inside the tubing, so I took it home, cleaned it, soaked it in hot water, cleaned it all out, and it was mine,” she told Rookie.
Ms. Robinson had known Mr. Stone in high school by his real name, Sylvester Stewart, and had followed him when he was a D.J. at the San Francisco radio station KSOL. But when they crossed paths in the mid-1960s, she did not realize that “Sly Stone” was her former friend. By then he was a musician and record producer, with ideas about forming a musical group.
Although Sly and the Stoners failed to catch fire, the Family Stone showed promise from the outset. In an early rehearsal, the members tried a Ray Charles song, “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” with gratifying results.
“We hit that first note, and it was like the Fourth of July — I just saw sparks and lights and my body just went totally nuts,” Ms. Robinson told Rookie. “I couldn’t play anymore — it was magnificent. I’d never heard a sound that great.”
The group’s first album, “A Whole New Thing,” released in 1967, went nowhere, but “Dance to the Music,” released the following year, scored a Top 10 hit with the title song, leading to a string of chart successes: “Everyday People,” “Stand,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime” and “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again).”
The group broke up in 1975, but Ms. Robinson continued to record with Mr. Stone into the next decade. She played with the funk band Graham Central Station, led by her cousin and fellow Family Stone member Larry Graham, and worked with George Clinton and Prince. In 2006, she began playing with a new version of the Family Stone, which included two of the band’s original members, the saxophonist Mr. Martini and the drummer Greg Errico, as well as her daughter with Mr. Stone, Sylvette Phunne Robinson, also known as Phunne Stone. She and her daughter sang lead vocals on “Do Yo Dance,”
a single released by the group this past summer.
Ms. Robinson died at Phunne Stone’s home and had lived in Sacramento. Survivors also include another daughter, Laura Marie Robinson, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“We were not even anticipating or reaching for stardom when we started,” Ms. Robinson told Rookie. “We just loved playing together.”
REX REASON, STAR OF SCI-FI CLASSIC ‘THIS ISLAND EARTH’
NOV. 24, 2015
Rex Reason, right, in a TV drama set in Prohibition-era New York, “The Roaring Twenties,” in the 1960s. Credit Warner Bros. Television, via Photofest
Rex Reason, a dashing movie star who played opposite Rita Hayworth and Clark Gable and starred in science fiction movies and two television series, died on Thursday at his home in Walnut, Calif., in Los Angeles County. He was 86.
The cause was bladder cancer, his wife, Shirley, said.
Six feet 2 inches tall and distinguished by a deep baritone voice, Mr. Reason played Cal Meacham, the heroic scientist in the 1955 science fiction film “This Island Earth
,” which was hailed for its color cinematography and technical effects and is paid a brief homage in a scene in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” He appeared with Hayworth in “Salome
” in 1953 and with Gable and Sidney Poitier in “Band of Angels
” in 1957. In 1956 he played Dr. Thomas Morgan in “The Creature Walks Among Us
,” the last installment in the last of the so-called Gill Man trilogy.
Oddly, for an actor with a name made for Hollywood, Universal insisted that he change it to Bart Roberts when he appeared in “Taza, Son of Cochise
” and “Yankee Pasha
” in 1954. But he demanded to use his real name again starting with “This Island Earth.”
Mr. Reason was born on Nov. 30, 1928, in Berlin, where his father, George, worked for General Motors Acceptance, which provided dealerships with credit to finance their inventories. His mother was the former Jean Robinson. He and his younger brother, Rhodes
, who also became an actor, were reared in Los Angeles. His brother died last year.
After quitting high school and serving in the Army, Mr. Reason acted at the Pasadena Playhouse. He was given a screen test at Columbia and was cast as the star of “Storm Over Tibet
,” released in 1951, opposite Diana Douglas, Kirk Douglas’s former wife.
He left “The Roaring Twenties” in 1961. “I have a long way to go in my career, and progress is my motto,” he said at the time.
But he soon gave up acting. His last TV appearance was in a 1963 episode of “Wagon Train.” He later worked as a real estate broker and recorded voice-overs until he retired.
Besides his third wife, the former Shirley Hake, Mr. Reason is survived by two children from his first marriage, Andrea Standley and Brent Reason.
DAVID CANARY, STAR OF ‘ALL MY CHILDREN’
NOV. 25, 2015
David Canary as Adam Chandler, with Susan Lucci, on “All My Children” in 1984. Credit ABC Photo Archives, via Associated Press
David Canary, who played the Chandler twins — evil Adam and guileless Stuart — on the soap opera “All My Children” for nearly 30 years, died on Nov. 16 in Wilton, Conn. He was 77.
His family confirmed the death but did not specify the cause.
Mr. Canary had earlier made his mark in westerns, appearing in the film “Hombre” with Paul Newman and in a regular role in the television series “Bonanza,” but he was most widely known for his work in “All My Children.” He first appeared in the show as the conniving Adam Chandler, one of Pine Valley’s wealthiest citizens, in 1984. Meek and mild Stuart, an artist, made his debut a year later. Over the next decade and a half, Mr. Canary won five Daytime Emmy Awards and received 16 nominations in the outstanding lead actor category.
David Hoyt Canary was born on Aug. 25, 1938, in Elwood, Ind., and grew up in Massillon, Ohio. He was a star offensive and defensive end at Washington High School there and won a football scholarship to the University of Cincinnati, where he studied voice and earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1960.
He turned down the opportunity to play for the Denver Broncos, which drafted him in its first year as a team.
“I thought they were out of their minds,” he said in a 2004 interview
for the Archive of American Television. “I was 172 pounds, I wasn’t very fast, and I couldn’t catch a pass. They called me stone fingers.”
He moved to New York to pursue an acting career, appearing as the lead in the Off Broadway musical
“Hi, Paesano!” and making his Broadway debut in 1961 with a small role in “The Happiest Girl in the World,” a musical directed by Cyril Ritchard, who also played multiple roles. A year later he appeared in “Great Day in the Morning,” a short-lived comedy-drama with Colleen Dewhurst, before being called up by the Army.
After completing his military service, Mr. Canary was cast in the San Francisco production of “The Fantasticks” and, after being spotted by an agent in a Los Angeles production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” landed a film contract with 20th Century Fox. Steady work in film and television followed.
In 1967 he played Lamar Dean, one of Richard Boone’s gang, in “Hombre” and the mobster Frank Gusenberg in “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,” which starred Jason Robards as Al Capone.
His work in “Hombre” and a two-part episode of “Gunsmoke” caught the eye of David Dortort, a producer of “Bonanza,” who hired him in 1967 (the show had its premiere in 1959) to play Candy Canaday
, one of the Ponderosa’s ranch hands. Mr. Dortort described the character to The New York Times as “an independent strong-willed loner who doesn’t waste words when a fist will do the job.” He remained with the series until its end, in 1973.
Mr. Canary’s first taste of soap-opera drama came in 1965, when he was cast as Dr. Russ Gehring, Mia Farrow’s physical therapist, in “Peyton Place.” Ms. Farrow’s character was in a coma at the time, so their interaction was minimal.
In 1981 he took the role of Steve Frame, a businessman, on the NBC soap opera “Another World.” After his character died in a car crash two years later, he joined “All My Children.” In 1980 he had a small role in the Broadway production of the Tennessee Williams play “Clothes for a Summer Hotel,”
with Geraldine Page.
Mr. Canary’s first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, the former Maureen Maloney; a brother, John; a daughter, Kathryn; a son, Christopher; and a grandson.
GUY LEWIS, COACH OF HOUSTON’S PHI SLAMA JAMA TEAMS
By ASHLEY SOUTHALL
NOV. 26, 2015
Guy Lewis was held aloft after Houston ended U.C.L.A.’s 47-game winning streak in 1968. Credit Ed Kolenovsky/Associated Press
Guy Lewis, a Hall of Fame basketball coach known for leading the University of Houston
’s Phi Slama Jama teams of the early 1980s, died on Thursday at a retirement home in Kyle, Tex. He was 93.
Officials at the University of Houston announced his death in a statement.
“Without the presence of Lewis, the history of the University of Houston would have been drastically different,” university officials wrote in his biography
on the Houston athletics website. “His tremendous impact here and on the game will be remembered across the nation.”
Lewis was the Houston men’s basketball coach for 30 years, compiling a record of 592-279 and turning the program into a powerhouse, with 20 straight winning seasons and 14 N.C.A.A.
Late in his tenure, after Houston had joined the Southwest Conference, Lewis guided the Cougars to two regular-season conference championships and four conference tournament titles.
Lewis guided teams to the N.C.A.A. tournament’s Final Four in 1967 and 1968, with Elvin Hayes, who was later the top overall pick in the N.B.A. draft
and went on to make the Hall of Fame, as the star.
But Lewis, easily distinguished along the sideline by his colorful plaid jackets and the polka-dot towel he clenched in his fist, is best remembered for his frenetic squads of the 1980s featuring Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, a Nigerian immigrant then known as Akeem.
In 1982, at the end of Olajuwon’s first season, Drexler led the Cougars to a Final Four appearance. The team’s celebrity exploded the next year, in part because of a nickname coined by the Houston Post columnist Thomas Bonk: Phi Slama Jama, in honor of the Cougars’ thunderous style of play.
Dunks had been banned by the N.C.A.A. from 1967 to 1976, but with their reintroduction, Lewis proved a champion of the cause, reportedly calling them a “high-percentage shot.”
Playing an above-the-rim style, Lewis’s teams made back-to-back appearances in the national championship game, in 1983 and 1984. But the Cougars fell short both times.
In a memorable stunner, the team, which had been ranked No. 1, lost to North Carolina State in the 1983 final as Wolfpack forward Lorenzo Charles beat the buzzer with a dunk.
Beyond his on-the-court accomplishments, Lewis helped integrate college basketball in the South by signing the Houston program’s first African-American players, Hayes and Don Chaney. The pair were among 30 of Lewis’s players who ascended to the N.B.A., with Olajuwon, like Hayes, becoming a No. 1 overall draft pick.
The court at the University of Houston’s Hofheinz Pavilion was named after Lewis in 1995.
Guy Vernon Lewis II was born on March 19, 1922, in Arp, Tex. He attended Arp High School, where he played basketball and football. After graduation, he served in the Army Air Forces during World War II and then enrolled at Rice University.
He left to attend Houston, where he played on the inaugural basketball team, in 1946, and led it to a Lone Star Conference title. He graduated in 1947 with a bachelor’s degree in education.
Lewis had been a prodigious scorer in college, accumulating 210 points in 10 league games during his first season and never scoring fewer than 14 points in a game. In his second season, he scored a personal-best 38 points in a game, breaking his first-season mark by 4.
In 1953, he returned to the university to be an assistant under Coach Alden Pasche. Lewis took over the program in 1956, after Pasche’s retirement.
During the early years of Lewis’s tenure, the team struggled against teams like Cincinnati and Bradley, but a turnaround in 1959-60 produced the first of more than two dozen winning seasons.
He met the former Dena Nelson at a high school dance in the 1930s, and the pair began dating despite attending rival high schools. They were married from 1942 until her death in June 2015, shortly before the couple’s 73rd wedding anniversary.
They had three children and are survived by two sons, Vern and Terry. Their on
ly daughter, Sherry, 63, died in December. Her son, Noah, also survives the family.
Lewis, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, was an architect of the so-called Game of the Century, a regular-season matchup between top-ranked U.C.L.A. and second-seeded Houston on Jan. 20, 1968.
The game, which featured Hayes and the Bruins star Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, drew 52,000 fans to the Houston Astrodome, and millions more watched on television as the Cougars won, 71-69, to end U.C.L.A.’s 47-game winning streak and avenge a loss in the Final Four of the previous year’s N.C.A.A. tournament.
Lewis called it the “greatest thrill” of his career, according to his biography on the Houston website.
“Playing that game, winning it, was a great, great thrill,” he said.
ELDZIER CORTOR, PAINTER OF SCENES FROM AFRICAN-AMERICAN SOCIAL LIFE
NOV. 27, 2015
The painter Eldzier Cortor photographed by Gordon Parks after winning a Guggenheim fellowship in 1949. Credit Gordon Parks/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images
Eldzier Cortor, a painter and printmaker perhaps best known for his elegant paintings of nude black women created when such works were seldom seen in the mainstream art world, died on Thursday at his son’s home in Seaford, N.Y., on Long Island. He was 99.
The son, Michael, confirmed his death.
Mr. Cortor’s works are in major museum collections, including those of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. His work was also featured in the inaugural show at the new Whitney Museum of American Art, “America Is Hard to See.”
As a young man, Mr. Cortor studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and was employed by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project
, created in 1935 as part of the New Deal to support artists.
He was “charged with depicting scenes of African-American social life in the slums of Chicago’s South Side,” according to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, which awarded him an unrelated fellowship in 1949. With money from the W.P.A., he helped found the South Side Community Art Center
in Chicago, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.
In an interview last month with The New York Times, Mr. Cortor recalled an introduction to the rules of race in the South, the life his parents sought to leave behind.
“When I was going down South, I was going down there to paint the Gullah people” living on the Sea Islands off South Carolina, Mr. Cortor recalled. “I caught the bus, and I was sitting in the middle,” he continued. “An older fellow, black fellow, he’s sitting in the complete back, against the bus back, you see. The bus was empty. You see, he got up and came and said, ‘Son, you better come back, in the back here.’”
Around 1950, Mr. Cortor moved to New York City’s Lower East Side, where he lived for the rest of his life.
One of his first moments of popular recognition came in 1946, when Life magazine published one of his figures, a seminude woman. He received prestigious fellowships — including the Guggenheim, which allowed him to travel to Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti, where he was exposed to new examples of art and culture in the African diaspora.
Demand for his work has grown in recent years, as many black artists have seen a surge in interest, with museums moving away from a Eurocentric view of American art.
Eldzier Cortor was born in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 10, 1916, to John and Ophelia Cortor. According to the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
, which was his primary dealer for many years, Mr. Cortor’s father was an electrician who felt stifled by Southern racism, so he moved the family to Chicago in 1917.
Complete information on survivors in addition to his son was not immediately available.
“Classical Study No. 37,” from 1979. Credit Eldzier Cortor, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York
One of Mr. Cortor’s works, “Southern Landscape,” from 1941. Credit Eldzier Cortor, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York
Until the day he died, his son said, Mr. Cortor was still painting.
“The idea is to get someone to pause awhile” instead of walking past a picture. Mr. Cortor said in the recent interview. “You try to just get them to stay with that painting for a while, you don’t just burst past it there. And that’s the idea. If you can get someone, to catch their eye a little bit.”
Randy Kennedy contributed reporting.