Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, a psychiatrist whose ideas about racism and society sparked years of debate and controversy, has died at age 80, according to the Washington Informer, which cites confirmation from her relatives.
Elvert Xavier Barnes Photography
Welsing had been hospitalized in Washington, D.C., this week after suffering a stroke. Announcing her death Saturday morning, activist and radio host Harry Allen wrote, “The void she leaves has no boundary.”
As news of Welsing’s death emerged, she was mourned by many – including musician Chuck D, who credits her with the intellectual inspiration for the 1990 Public Enemy album Fear of a Black Planet.
Civil rights leader Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. was also among those mourning Welsing today. According to the Informer, Welsing was kept on life-support systems until her sister, Loren Cress Love, could travel from Chicago to be with her.
A native of Chicago who graduated from Antioch College and Howard University’s medical school, Welsing rose to prominence after publishing an essay in 1970 titled “The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy).”
In that essay, Welsing put forth the idea that racism was a worldwide behavior – and that whites’ status as a global minority feeds a fear that leads to oppression and violence.
Speaking about Welsing, Greg Carr, head of Howard University’s Department of Afro-American Studies, says in an email today, “The fact that she was largely unknown and/or caricatured when discussed at all in white public discourse reflects the tremendous gap that continues between black and white public spheres.”
In a 1974 TV appearance with William Shockley on Tony Brown’s Black Journal, Welsing said:
“I think that… even though most white people are not consciously understanding their problem in genetics, they are certainly aware that they are genetically dominated by people of color – that’s why there’s the statement that one drop of black blood makes you black. Because people of color have the genetic capacity to annihilate white people.”
Welsing later expanded on those ideas in a collection of essays titled The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors. In the introduction to that 1991 book, she described a “planetary game of chess” and stressed the importance of understanding racial behaviors and symbols.
Her critics felt Welsing took that analysis too far in some directions — as when she interpreted homosexuality as “a strategy for destroying Black people that must be countered” in The Isis Papers.
In a 1985 segment with talk-show host Phil Donahue, Welsing said that her thinking about racism stemmed from her work as a psychiatrist.
“I knew I had to understand racism to help solve the mental health problems of black people,” she said.
While Welsing was famous for taking on broad questions of race and domination, she also spent decades working as a psychiatrist in Washington, where she was, according to a recent online biography, a physician for the Department of Human Services and as the clinical director of two schools for emotionally troubled children.
Calling for strong families and role models in the black community, Welsing wrote, “Children are the only future of any people.”
I cannot believe that Dr. Welsing is gone.
She showed her love and devotion to Black people by revealing the truth to them of the viciousness and hypocrisy of racist white supremacy.
Never has there been and never will there ever be another such as the late, great doctor.
She truly stood for her people and did not run from the truth in her fight for justice for all.
May she be received into the arms of all the fighters who have gone on before her and may her name never, ever, be forgotten.
Rest in peace, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing.
Rest in peace.
NATALIE COLE, ‘UNFORGETTABLE’ VOICE
Natalie Cole performing in 2007. Credit Radek Pietruszka/European Pressphoto Agency
The cause was “ongoing health issues,” her family said. Ms. Cole had undergone a kidney transplant in 2009 and had suffered from other ailments recently, forcing the cancellation of tour dates in November and December.
Ms. Cole had a light, supple, perpetually optimistic voice, full of syncopated turns and airborne swoops, drawing on both the nuances of jazz singing and the dynamics of gospel. It brought her million-selling albums in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s as she moved from the sound of her own generation to that of her parents.
“The biggest similarities between Ms. Cole and her father are in attitude. Instead of working toward catharsis, they aspire to a genteel elegance, balance and good feeling,” Stephen Holden wrote
in The New York Times in 1993. “But where the ultimate direction of the father’s singing was an easy chair on a moonlit porch, his daughter’s tenser, more brittle singing evokes an urban, indoor setting. To the decorous phrasing of a big band singer she brings a steady current of soul-music sassiness.”
Ms. Cole performing in Los Angeles in 2008. Credit Andrew Gombert/European Pressphoto Agency
Ms. Cole was equally at home in the pop-soul of her No. 1 1975 hit, “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love),” and in her technology-assisted duet with her father in 1991, based on his 1951 recording of “Unforgettable
Both songs brought her Grammy Awards
. The “Unforgettable…With Love” album, on which Ms. Cole sang her father’s hits, also swept the top Grammy Awards — including album, record and song of the year — and sold seven million copies in the United States alone.
Yet over a long career, Ms. Cole recorded broad selections of material, including Tin Pan Alley staples, songs written for her and songs by, among others, Fiona Apple and Bruce Springsteen. Her most recent album, in 2013, was “Natalie Cole en Español,” a collection of Latin pop favorites that was nominated for Latin Grammy Awards.
Ms. Cole repeatedly overcame personal setbacks.
Her first run of success in the 1970s was followed by struggles with heroin, alcohol and crack cocaine addiction in the early 1980s, a period she wrote about in her 2000 autobiography, “Angel on My Shoulder.” (She played herself in “Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story,” a TV movie based on the book.) She went through rehab in 1983.
“I just can’t have fun with drugs the way some people can,” she told The Los Angeles Times
in 1985. “They can get high or have a drink and go home. I’m not like that.”
In 2009, as a result of hepatitis C that she believed she had contracted through past intravenous drug use, she underwent chemotherapy and a kidney transplant. Her 2010 book, “Love Brought Me Back,” chronicled the search for a donor. But she continued to perform well into 2015.
Ms. Cole and her father, Nat King Cole, in a photograph from about 1955. They sang together on a Christmas album. Credit Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Natalie Cole was born on Feb. 6, 1950, to Nat Cole and his wife, Maria Cole, who had sung with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Natalie grew up surrounded by music and celebrities, and she made her recording debut as a child, singing with her father on a Christmas album. But after Nat Cole’s death in 1965, she turned away from music. She majored in child psychology and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1972.
But she was soon singing in clubs — although she resisted singing her father’s material.
“I had to do my own songs in my own way,” she told Rolling Stone
She was noticed by producers based in Chicago, Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy, who wrote much of her early material. She married Mr. Yancy in 1976, the first of three marriages.
Ms. Cole is survived by her son, Robert Yancy, and her two sisters, Timolin Cole and Casey Cole.
Capitol Records, which was also Nat Cole’s label, signed Natalie Cole and released, in 1975, her debut album, “Inseparable,” which drew comparisons to Aretha Franklin. She was named Best New Artist at the 1976 Grammy Awards, where “This Will Be” also won as “Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female.”
Ms. Cole’s third album, “Unpredictable” in 1977, was also a Top 10 pop album. She showed off her acrobatic live vocals on “Natalie Live” in 1978 and made a duet album, “We’re the Best of Friends,” with the R&B crooner Peabo Bryson in 1979. But her pop profile dwindled, in part because of her drug problems.
Ms. Cole holding one of the Grammy Awards she received in the 1990s. Credit Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
Her career was revived in 1987, after rehab, with “Everlasting,” which included three Top 10 pop singles: “Jump Start,” the ballad “I Live for Your Love” and her version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac.”
Yet it was with “Unforgettable…With Love” in 1991, leaping back to a previous generation’s songs, that Ms. Cole would establish her latter-day career. “Unforgettable” reminded both radio programmers and the record business that there was a large audience for music offering comfort far from the cutting edge.
“The shock of it all is that this record is getting airplay,” Ms. Cole said in an interview at the time. “It’s absolutely shocking to see it between Van Halen and Skid Row on the charts, totally out of its element. It should be encouraging to record companies and my contemporaries.”
Yet the Grammy sweep for “Unforgettable” in 1992 drew some criticism, particularly as the Song of the Year was four decades old. In 1993, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences changed the Song of the Year rules to make songs eligible only in the first year they were recorded or rose to prominence.
But Ms. Cole’s new direction continued to yield both hits and awards.
Her 1993 album, “Take a Look” and a 1994 Christmas album, “Holly & Ivy,” both sold half a million copies; “Stardust,” another collection of standards in 1996, eventually sold a million copies and brought her a Grammy for another duet with her father, “When I Fall in Love.” Her 2008 album, “Still Unforgettable,” was named Best Traditional Pop Album.
Ms. Cole also did some acting, appearing in television series including “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Ms. Cole grew further into her family’s heritage. In the late 1990s she performed with her uncle, the jazz singer Freddie Cole
. And the virtual duets with her father continued through “Natalie Cole en Español.” His own “Cole Español” album was released in 1958.)
“He would step out on faith to do something musically,” she told “CBS This Morning”
in 2013. “He would just take that risk, and that’s something that I’ve gotten from him, I guess. He was never trendy.”
Correction: January 1, 2016
An earlier version of a headline on the home page misspelled Ms. Cole’s surname as Coal.
Randy Kennedy contributed reporting.
She was truly unforgettable.
When Ms. Natalie Cole started her singing career, I wondered if the public would be able to accept her on her own. Stepping out of her famous father’s shadow, she showed she could and she would go on to create her own legend.
It was heartbreaking to hear of her battle with her addictions, but, she prevailed and surprised the music industry with her album 1991 Unforgettable, where she sang many of the standards made famous by her father, which lead to the beautiful video of the song Unforgettable with her father, the late great Nat King Cole.
Ms. Cole sang and performed many songs through her career, but none have touched me as much as the following songs.
She will be missed and with God’s grace, she is now an angel singing in Heaven.
Rest in peace, Ms. Natalie Cole.
Rest in peace.
Natalie Cole “The Very Thought Of You”
From the album Natalie Cole – “Unforgettable With Love” 1991
[Lyrics to “The Very Thought Of You”]The very thought of you,
and I forget to do,
the little ordinary things
that everyone ought to do.I’m living in a kind of daydream.
I’m happy as a king.
And foolish though it may seem
to me, that’s everything.The mere idea of you,
the longing here for you…
You’ll never know how slow the moments go
‘til I’m near to you.I see your face in every flower,
your eyes in stars above.
It’s just the thought of you,
the very thought of you,
The mere idea of you,
the longing here for you…
You’ll never know how slow the moments go
‘til I’m near to you
I see your face in every flower,
your eyes in stars above.
It’s just the thought the of you,
the very thought of you,
Music and lyrics by Ray Noble
Natalie Cole “The Holly & The Ivy”
From the album Natalie Cole – “Holly & Ivy” 1994
[Lyrics to “The Holly & The Ivy”]The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees
That are in the wood,
The holly wears the crownChorus:
O the rising of the sun
The running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir
Sweet singing in the choirThe holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour(Chorus)
The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good
The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas day in the morn
The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all
The holly and the ivy
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees
That are in the wood
The holly wears the crown
“The Holly and the Ivy” is a traditional British folk Christmas carol. The song is catalogued as Roud Folk Song Index No. 514. The above current words and melody are taken from Sharp’s English Folk-Carols (1911).
JOCELYN COOPER; HELPED PAVE WAY FOR FIRST BLACK CONGRESSWOMAN
Jocelyn Cooper encouraged her husband to start The City Sun, a newspaper that took on white and black public figures alike. Credit Jill Jefferson
The cause was congestive heart failure, her daughter Jocelyn Cooper said.
Through grass-roots organizing, registering voters and challenging congressional district lines in court in the early 1960s, Ms. Cooper and her husband, Andrew Cooper
, scored victories against the regular Brooklyn Democratic organization. They fielded black candidates under the reform banner and paved the way for the election of Shirley Chisholm in 1968 as the nation’s first black congresswoman.
To finance their legal challenge to racially gerrymandered congressional districts, they took out a third mortgage on their home and, unable to afford a process server, delivered the court papers themselves. Ms. Chisholm won in a new district drawn under court order.
Ms. Cooper, who had recruited her husband to politics, encouraged him to found The City Sun in Brooklyn in 1984. An outgrowth of his Trans Urban News Service, it was a fiercely independent weekly newspaper, taking on white and black public figures alike: Its coverage elicited irate ripostes from Mayor Edward I. Koch, and it published a front-page editorial in 1993 urging David N. Dinkins, New York City’s first black mayor, to be more assertive.
“Frankly,” the editorial said, “you are beginning to look like a wimp.”
The Sun went out of business in 1996. Its alumni include Utrice C. Leid, its managing editor, who was instrumental in starting the paper and who became general manager of the radio station WBAI; Herb Boyd, a journalist, author and educator; and Errol Louis, an NY1 News television host and a Daily News columnist.
Jocelyn Elaine Clopton was born in Jersey City on Jan. 27, 1929, the daughter of Robert Clopton, who worked odd jobs, and the former Lina Sullivan, a waitress. They separated when Jocelyn was 2.
She was raised mostly by her grandparents, who were college educated. She attended Lincoln High School in Jersey City and moved to Brooklyn as a teenager, living there with her future husband’s aunt and step-uncle.
She married Mr. Cooper in 1949. He died in 2002. In addition to her daughter Jocelyn, the founder of the annual Afropunk Fest
in Brooklyn, she is survived by another daughter, Andrea Cooper Andrews, the founder of the Young Journalists in Training program at St. Francis College, also in Brooklyn; one grandson; and one great-grandson.
Ms. Cooper earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Adelphi University on Long Island and worked for New York City’s Community Development Agency (which merged in 1996 with the Department of Youth Services).
She immersed herself in the civil rights movement and in Democratic politics (but supported John V. Lindsay’s Republican campaign for mayor in 1965), initially by campaigning for Thomas R. Jones, who was running for assemblyman and district leader in central Brooklyn. The first supporter she recruited was her husband, who was working the overnight shift at a brewery and was reluctant to attend nighttime political meetings.
“Jocelyn initiated the political activity in the home,” Wayne Dawkins wrote in a biography of Mr. Cooper, “City Son: Andrew W. Cooper’s Impact on Modern-Day Brooklyn” (2012).
Ms. Cooper was a trustee of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
MEADOWLARK LEMON, HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS’ DAZZLING COURT JESTER
His death was confirmed by his wife, Cynthia Lemon, who did not specify the cause.
A gifted athlete with an entertainer’s hunger for the spotlight, Lemon, who dreamed of playing for the Globetrotters as a boy in North Carolina, joined the team in 1954, not long after leaving the Army. Within a few years, he had assumed the central role of showman, taking over from the Trotters’ long-reigning clown prince Reece Tatum, whom everyone called Goose.
Tatum, who had left the team around the time Lemon joined it, was a superb ballplayer whose on-court gags — or reams, as the players called them — had established the team’s reputation for laugh-inducing wizardry at a championship level.
Videos and Photos Recall Meadowlark Lemon, an ‘Ageless Court Magician’ DEC. 28, 2015
This was a time when the Trotters were known for more than their comedy routines and basketball legerdemain; they were also recognized as a formidable competitive team. Their victory over the Minneapolis Lakers in 1948 was instrumental in integrating the National Basketball Association, and a decade later their owner, Abe Saperstein, signed a 7-footer out of the University of Kansas to a one-year contract before he was eligible for the N.B.A.: Wilt Chamberlain.
By then, Lemon, who was 6 feet 3 inches tall and slender, was the team’s leading light, such a star that he played center while Chamberlain played guard.
Lemon was a slick ballhandler and a virtuoso passer, and he specialized in the long-distance hook, a trick shot he made with remarkable regularity. But it was his charisma and comic bravado that made him perhaps the most famous Globetrotter. For 22 years, until he left the team in 1978, Lemon was the Trotters’ ringmaster, directing their basketball circus from the pivot. He imitated Tatum’s reams, including spying on the opposition’s huddle, and added his own.
He threatened referees or fans with a bucket that like as not was filled with confetti instead of water. He dribbled above his head and walked with exaggerated steps. He mimicked a hitter in the batter’s box and, with teammates, pantomimed a baseball game. And both to torment the opposing team — as time went on, it was often a hired squad of foils — and to amuse the appreciative spectators, he smiled and laughed and teased and chattered; like Tatum, he talked most of the time he was on the court.
The Trotters played in mammoth arenas and on dirt courts in African villages. They played in Rome before the pope; they played in Moscow during the Cold War before the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev. In the United States, they played in small towns and big cities, in Madison Square Garden, in high school gyms, in cleared-out auditoriums — even on the floor of a drained swimming pool. They performed their most entertaining ballhandling tricks, accompanied by their signature tune, “Sweet Georgia Brown,” on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Through it all, Lemon became “an American institution like the Washington Monument or the Statue of Liberty” whose “uniform will one day hang in the Smithsonian right next to Lindbergh’s airplane,” as the Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray once described him.
Significantly, Lemon’s time with the Globetrotters paralleled the rise of the N.B.A. When he joined the team, the Globetrotters were still better known than the Knicks and the Boston Celtics and played for bigger crowds than they did. When he left, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were about to enter the N.B.A. and propel it to worldwide popularity. In between, the league became thoroughly accommodating to black players, competing with the Globetrotters for their services and eventually usurping the Trotters as the most viable employer of top black basketball talent.
Partly as a result, the Globetrotters became less of a competitive basketball team and more of an entertainment troupe through the 1960s and ’70s. They became television stars, hosting variety specials and playing themselves on shows like “The White Shadow” and a made-for-TV “Gilligan’s Island” movie; they inspired a Saturday morning cartoon show.
In Lemon’s early years with the team, as the Globetrotters took on local teams and challenged college all-star squads, they played to win, generally using straight basketball skills until the outcome was assured. But as time went on, for the fans who came to see them, the outcome was no longer the point.
On Jan. 5, 1971, the Globetrotters were beaten in Martin, Tenn., by an ordinarily more obliging team, the New Jersey Reds. It was the first time they had lost in almost nine years, the end of a 2,495-game winning streak. But perhaps more remarkable than the streak itself was the fact that it ended at all, given that the Trotters’ opponents by then were generally forbidden to interfere with passes to Lemon in the middle or to interrupt the familiar reams.
Lemon, as the stellar attraction, thrived in this environment, but he also became a lightning rod for troubles within the Globetrotter organization. As the civil rights movement gained momentum, the players’ antics on the court drew criticism from outside for reinforcing what many considered to be demeaning black stereotypes, and Lemon drew criticism from inside.
Not only was he the leading figure in what some thought to be a discomforting resurrection of the minstrel show, he was also, by far, the highest-paid Globetrotter, and his teammates associated him more with management than with themselves. When the players went on strike for higher pay in 1971, Lemon, who negotiated his own salary, did not join them.
After Saperstein died in 1965, the team changed hands several times, and in 1978, according to “Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters” (2005), by Ben Green, Lemon was dismissed after a salary dispute. He subsequently formed his own traveling teams — Meadowlark Lemon’s Bucketeers, the Shooting Stars and Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All-Stars — and continued performing into his 70s.
says he played in 16,000 games, an astonishing claim — it breaks down to more than 300 games a year for 50 years — and in 100 countries, which, give or take a few, is probably true.
Lemon was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 2003. There he joined another Globetrotter, Marques Haynes, who was inducted in 1998 and whom some called the world’s greatest dribbler. Haynes died
in May at 89.
Whatever ill feelings arose during Lemon’s Globetrotter days, they were drowned out by his celebrity and the affection with which he was received all over the world.
“Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I’ve ever seen,” Chamberlain said in a television interview not long before he died in 1999.
“People would say it would be Dr. J or even Jordan,” Chamberlain went on, referring to Julius Erving and Michael Jordan. “For me, it would be Meadowlark Lemon.”
The facts of Lemon’s early life are hazy, and evidently he wanted it that way. His birth date, birthplace and birth name have all been variously reported. The date most frequently cited — and the likeliest — is April 25, 1932. Many sources say he was born in Wilmington, N.C., but The Wilmington Star-News reported in 1996 that he was born in Lexington County, S.C., and moved to Wilmington in 1938. His website says he was born Meadow Lemon, though many other sources say his name at birth was George Meadow Lemon or Meadow George Lemon. The Star-News said it was George Meadow Lemon III. He became known as Meadowlark after he joined the Globetrotters.
As a boy in Wilmington, he learned basketball at a local boys’ club; he told The Hartford Courant in 1999 that he was so poor that he practiced by using a coat hanger for a basket, an onion sack for a net and a Carnation milk can for a ball. After high school, he briefly attended Florida A&M University before spending two years in the Army.
Stationed in Austria, he played a few games with the Trotters, who were then touring Europe, and he performed well enough to earn a tryout after he mustered out. He was assigned to a Globetrotters developmental team, the Kansas City Stars, before joining the Trotters in 1954.
Asked about never having played in the N.B.A., Lemon told Sports Illustrated in 2010, “I don’t worry that I never played against some of those guys.”
He added: “I’ll put it this way. When you go to the Ice Capades, you see all these beautiful skaters, and then you see the clown come out on the ice, stumbling and pretending like he can hardly stay up on his skates, just to make you laugh. A lot of times, that clown is the best skater of the bunch.”
Lemon lived in Scottsdale. His first marriage, to the former Willye Maultsby, ended in divorce. (In 1978, she was arrested after stabbing him on a Manhattan street.) He had 10 children. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.
In 1986, Lemon became an ordained Christian minister; he and his wife founded a nonprofit evangelistic organization, Meadowlark Lemon Ministries, in 1994.
“Man, I’ve had a good run,” he said at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony, recalling the first time he saw the Globetrotters play, in a newsreel in a movie theater in Wilmington when he was 11.
“When they got to the basketball court, they seemed to make that ball talk,” he said. “I said, ‘That’s mine; this is for me.’ I was receiving a vision. I was receiving a dream in my heart.”
Correction: December 30, 2015
An earlier version of a picture caption in the slide show with this obituary misstated the year that Lemon was pictured with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. It was 1976, not 1978.
Matt A. V. Chaban contributed reporting.
WAYNE ROGERS, ACTOR IN TV SHOW ‘M.A.S.H.’
Larry Linville, left, Wayne Rogers, center, and Alan Alda in “M.A.S.H.” in 1972. Credit CBS
The cause was complications of pneumonia, Rona Menashe, his publicist, told The Associated Press.
Dr. John McIntyre, known as Trapper John, was an irreverent Korean War-era Army surgeon who, between life-or-death medical emergencies in a mobile medical unit, liked to relax with martinis, wisecracks and his best friend and fellow surgeon, Hawkeye Pierce, played by Alan Alda.
Years later, Mr. Rogers and Mr. Alda’s characters were named favorite television comedy duo in a TV Guide poll; Mr. Rogers appeared in the series for only three seasons, from 1972 to 1975. He left because of a contract dispute, which was widely believed to be connected to the growing dominance of Mr. Alda’s character. Mr. Rogers was replaced by Mike Farrell as a new sidekick, Capt. B. J. Hunnicut, and the series ran until 1983, when its finale attracted one of the largest viewing audiences in the history of series television.
Mr. Rogers in 2005 at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Credit Phil McCarten/Reuters
At 42, Mr. Rogers moved on with his acting career, landing a series lead a year later as a private investigator in “City of Angels.” The show lasted only one season. He found some success in the CBS medical sitcom “House Calls,” which also starred Lynn Redgrave (replaced in the third season by Sharon Gless) and ran from 1979 to 1982.
He later built a successful career as an investor and money manager, appearing regularly as a panelist on the Fox News show “Cashin’ In.” In 1988 and 1990, he appeared as an expert witness before the House Judiciary Committee, advocating the continuation of the Glass-Steagall
banking laws. He later blamed the abolishment of those laws for the recession that began in 2008.
William Wayne McMillan Rogers III was born on April 7, 1933, in Birmingham, Ala., the son of a lawyer and a nurse. He graduated from Princeton University in 1954 with a degree in history and enlisted in the Navy. He had planned to go to law school but he was seduced by acting in 1955 while his ship was in Brooklyn, where he attended a friend’s theater rehearsal.
“That is what hooked me — the process,” Mr. Rogers told Emerald Coast magazine in 2010. “You use your mind, body, emotions and all at a very concentrated, high level.”
Too many actors, he added, entered the profession not for the work itself but for the prospect of fame and wealth.
Mr. Rogers, left, and Alan Alda in an undated episode of the television show “M*A*S*H,” about a mobile army hospital. Credit CBS
Mr. Rogers studied acting and dance and began doing stage roles. His first television appearance was in 1959 on the soap opera “Search for Tomorrow.” Over the next decade he appeared on dozens of series, including “Gunsmoke,” “The Millionaire” and “The F.B.I.,” before winning his star-making role on “M*A*S*H.”
Although feature films were not a major part of his career, he also made his movie debut in 1959, as a soldier in a bar in “Odds Against Tomorrow,” a Robert Wise crime drama shot in New York and starring Harry Belafonte. Mr. Rogers also had a small role as a chain-gang member in the cult film “Cool Hand Luke” (1967) and played a prominent Southern civil rights lawyer in Rob Reiner’s “Ghosts of Mississippi” (1996).
His last film appearance was in “Nobody Knows Anything!” (2003), a comedy about Hollywood screenwriting whose cast included Margaret Cho and Stephen Colbert.
Although Mr. Rogers never appeared on a Broadway stage
, he produced half a dozen plays there in the 1980s. They included the original Broadway production of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” (1983), which ran three years; a 1985 revival, with women in the lead roles, of Mr. Simon’s “The Odd Couple”; and Jules Feiffer’s “Grown Ups” (1981).
Mr. Rogers married Mitzi McWhorter, an actress, in 1960. They had two children and divorced in 1983. His survivors include his second wife, the former Amy Hirsh, a television producer; a son, Bill; a daughter, Laura Rogers; and four grandchildren.
In later years, Mr. Rogers recalled “M*A*S*H” fondly and as an unusually creative opportunity. Asked in a KCBQ radio interview in 2012 if he would have liked to explore Trapper John’s emotions more deeply, he agreed because “it makes the character richer.”
But being believable was never a problem, he added, given the show’s depiction of the chaos of war. “In those situations, you could almost do anything, because there was an insanity to it.”
EL FRANCO LEE, HARRIS COUNTY COMMISSIONER
By Collin Eaton, Updated 12:06 P.M., Sunday, January 3, 2016
El Franco Lee, Harris County’s first African American commissioner, died Sunday morning of a heart attack. He was 66.
The Houston native attended Wheatley High School and Texas Southern University. He was elected as a state representative in 1979 and served until becoming a county commissioner in 1985. He was serving his seventh term in office for Precinct One.
During his tenure, he advocated for the new Dynamo stadium.
“El Franco was a beloved public servant who never sought the limelight, preferring a low key approach that put the needs of his constituents above self-promotion,” Houston mayor Sylvester Turner said, noting that Lee beat him in the 1984 race for county commissioner. “His passion was helping seniors and improving quality of life for underserved youth and young adults in the inner city. His unmatched programs for thousands of seniors include everything from health and fitness initiatives to arts and crafts and music tutorials to holiday celebrations and other special events.”
Turner has directed that flags at City of Houston facilities be lowered to half-staff.
“Commissioner Lee was a giant of a man,” U.S. State Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said. “We could always count on his heart and his passion for the most vulnerable.”
Jackson Lee said the commissioner was “a champion” of mental health resources, quality of life for seniors and intellectual and athletic development of children, focusing on “people who couldn’t speak for themselves.”
He was pronounced dead at 10:01 a.m. at LBJ Hospital, said Bryan McLeod, a spokesman for Harris Health System.
He is survived by his wife and two children.