IN REMEMBRANCE: 3-20-2016

ERNESTINE ANDERSON: A NATURAL AT THE BLUES

Ernestine Anderson performs at the Windsor Jazz Festival in 1966. David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

From tender and soulful to hard-edged and gritty, Ernestine Anderson was one of the most versatile jazz vocalists to emerge from the big band era.

Anderson was born Nov. 11, 1928. At age 3, she could sing along with recordings of Bessie Smith; she soon moved on to the more refined environs of her local church’s gospel choir. After winning a regional talent competition at age 12, the precocious Anderson landed a gig with trumpeter Russell Jacquet’s big band.

As Anderson began performing professionally on a regular basis, her schoolwork suffered. To get his daughter back on track, Ernestine Anderson’s father moved the family from Houston to Seattle. But her talent proved too big to control, and with her family’s blessings, she left home at 18 to tour with a big band led by Johnny Otis.

Two years later, Anderson returned home, married and had children. But when an opportunity knocked to join the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, her parents offered to care for the kids temporarily, and she hit the road again.

Despite critical acclaim and professional success, Ernestine Anderson surprisingly lacked confidence in her ability as a vocalist. It wasn’t until she toured Sweden and became a sensation abroad that she really came into her own; she remained in Sweden to record her first solo album.

Upon returning to the United States, Anderson gave the album to jazz critic Ralph Gleason. So impressed was Gleason that he secured a record deal for her with Mercury Records. Hot Cargo was released in 1958 to rave reviews and Down Beat magazine named Ernestine Anderson “Best New Vocal Star.”

After her contract with Mercury ended, her ensuing legal dispute with the label kept her from recording for five years. During that period, she had trouble finding gigs, enduring the worst slump of her career. Making matters worse, she found herself emotionally drained by the pressures of instant fame.

Anderson toured Europe in an attempt to revive her career, returning to the U.S. in the late 1960s to find her style of music out of fashion. During this low period, she decided to quit singing and return to the comfort of her family, finding solace in the tenets of Buddhism.

As it happened, the respite worked wonders for Anderson. When Concord Records came calling with an unexpected record deal, she embraced the chance to sing again. Over the next 15 years, Anderson released 14 albums, performed in festivals nationwide with pianists Gene Harris and George Shearing, received several Grammy nominations and opened her own jazz club.

As the vocalist’s longtime friend and accompanist, Norman Simmons, puts it, Anderson was a natural at the blues. Whenever she sang, “somewhere in that song she [was] gonna find some way to bend that thing.”

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ROBERT HORTON, ACTOR

Actor who was the rugged star of the Wagon Train western series

Robert Horton

Robert Horton Photo: Rex Features

Robert Horton, the actor, who has died aged 91, won legions of female fans in the role of frontier scout Flint McCullough on Wagon Train (1957-65), a television western series that became a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

Each season of the show, which took its inspiration from the 1950 John Ford film The Wagon Master, featured a wagon train wending its way from Missouri to Sacramento in the 1860s, dealing with indians, poisonous snakes, tornadoes and outlaws along the way. Thanks to Flint McCullough and his wagon master Major Seth Adams (Ward Bond, later John McIntyre), viewers always knew it would reach its destination.

Ruggedly handsome, with auburn hair and an easy smile, Horton, who did all his own riding and stunt work, helped to turn the NBC (later ABC) series, into one of the most successful western series ever made.

Horton (left) with George Montgomery in Wagon Train

Horton (left) with George Montgomery in Wagon Train  Photo: Rex Features

The role turned him into an international idol and he was especially popular in Britain, where Wagon Train was shown on ITV’s Monday teatime slot. When he appeared at the London Palladium, a reviewer reported that he had drawn “squeals and shrieks’’ from his mainly female audience.

Afterwards he had to lock himself into his hotel room to escape their clutches. It was claimed that the Labour leader Harold Wilson wanted the 1959 General Election held on a day when the show was not screened, in case it kept voters at home.

In 1962, however, Horton began to tire of his role and left the series, claiming he was “fed up” with westerns and wanted to expand his repertoire. “There is a lot more to this business than just collecting your pay cheque,” he told an interviewer. But the offers failed to materialise and by 1965 he was back in the saddle, in A Man Called Shenandoah, as a Civil War veteran who has lost his memory and wanders the west trying to find out who he was.

The series lasted barely a season, one reviewer observing that it was just as well that Horton was amnesic, so he could not remember how bad the previous week’s episode had been. After that he more or less vanished from view.

Meade Howard Horton was born into a Mormon family in Los Angeles on July 29 1924. Educated at a military school in North Hollywood, he enlisted in the Coast Guard, from which he was soon discharged due to an enlarged kidney.

Horton (left) with Richard Jaeckel and Luciana Paluzzi in The Green Slime

Horton (left) with Richard Jaeckel and Luciana Paluzzi in The Green Slime  Photo: Rex Features

In 1945 a chance encounter with a talent scout led to an uncredited part in the Second World War film A Walk in the Sun. After taking a degree in Theatre Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles, he appeared in (among others) Apache War Smoke (1952) and on television shows such as The Lone Ranger and The Public Defender before winning his part on Wagon Train.

After leaving the series, Horton did a Broadway musical, 110 in the Shade for a season – to lukewarm reviews. After A Man Called Shenandoah he toured in stage musicals for several years, did a forgettable Japanese science-fi movie, The Green Slime (1968, in which he played an astronaut who returns to Earth with green gunk that turns into monsters that feed off electricity). In the 1980s he turned to daytime television, playing Whit McColl in As the World Turns (1982-84) and taking small parts in such series as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Murder She Wrote. He also performed as a singer in theatres and nightclubs, sometimes with his wife Marilynn.

With his earnings from Wagon Train, Horton made a series of shrewd investments and admitted to being well off financially. He was a keen collector of vintage cars.

His wife survives him.

Robert Horton, born July 29 1924, died March 9 2016

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FRNAK SINATRA JR., SON OF LEGENDARY SINGER

Frank SinatraPlayThe Associated Press
Frank Sinatra Jr. Dies While on Tour

The younger Sinatra died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest while on tour in Daytona Beach, Florida, the Sinatra family said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The statement said the family mourns the untimely passing of their son, brother, father and uncle. No other details were provided.

His real name was Francis Wayne Sinatra — his father’s full name was Francis Albert Sinatra — but he went professionally by Frank Sinatra Jr.

 Frank Sinatra greets his son Frank Jr. backstage at the Driftwood Lounge after the younger Sinatra’s performance with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in Las Vegas in 1963. Credit John Cook/European Pressphoto Agency

 

Sinatra Jr. was the middle child of Sinatra and Nancy Barbato Sinatra, who was the elder Sinatra’s first wife and the mother of all three of his children. Sinatra Jr.’s older sister was Nancy Sinatra, who had a successful musical career of her own, and his younger sister was TV producer Tina Sinatra.

He was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1944, just as his father’s career was getting started, and he would watch his dad become one of the most famous singers of all time. But he usually watched from a distance, as Sinatra was constantly away on tours and making movies.

He did, however, sometimes get to see him from the wings of the stage, especially when his father performed for long stints in Las Vegas. Sinatra Jr. got to see many other storied performers too, like Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Count Basie.

“I saw all the top stars perform,” Sinatra Jr. told the AP in 2002. He said one of his favorite memories of his father was a show in the late 1960s at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

“He was sitting on a little stool, and he sang the Beatles song ‘Yesterday’ and ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ and ‘Didn’t We,'” Sinatra Jr. said. “We were all crying and singing.”

 Mr. Sinatra in 1971. He never had a hit record, but he continued to perform in Las Vegas and elsewhere. Credit Las Vegas News Bureau, via European Pressphoto Agency

 

Sinatra Jr. followed his father into music as a teenager, eventually working for the senior Sinatra as his musical director and conductor.

The elder Sinatra died of a heart attack May 14, 1998, at 82.

Sinatra Jr. was able to provide a link to his father’s music after his death, performing his songs and arrangements on tours and especially in Las Vegas.

“Since my father’s death, a lot of people have made it clear that they’re not ready to give up the music,” Sinatra Jr. said in the 2002 AP interview. “For me, it’s a big, fat gift. I get to sing with a big orchestra and get to sing orchestrations that will never be old.”

Frank Sinatra Jr. and his band perform “Sinatra Sings Sinatra” in Las Vegas in 2010. Credit Brian Jones/European Pressphoto Agency

When Sinatra Jr. was 19 in 1963, three men kidnapped him at gunpoint from a Lake Tahoe hotel. He was returned safely after two days when his family paid $240,000 for his release.

Barry Keenan, a high school friend of Nancy Sinatra, was arrested with the other two suspects, Johnny Irwin and Joe Amsler, and convicted of conspiracy and kidnapping.

Keenan masterminded the kidnapping, prosecutors said. He was sentenced to life plus 75 years in prison, but was declared legally insane at the time of the crime, had his sentence reduced and was paroled in 1968 after serving 4 ½ years.

Sinatra Jr. had nearly two dozen TV and movie credits as an actor, including appearances on “The Love Boat” and “Marcus Welby, M.D.” most recently providing his own voice for two episodes of “Family Guy.”

Last year he performed the national anthem at Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees games in celebration of the centennial of his father’s birth.

He was scheduled to perform Thursday night in St. Petersburg, Florida, in a show featuring his father’s songbook. The venue’s website mentioned Sinatra Jr.’s death in canceling the show. He had other tour dates booked for May, September and October in the Midwest and East Coast.

Sinatra Jr. was married in 1998, but divorced in 2000. He is survived by a son, Michael.

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AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to this report.

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DR. QUENTIN D. YOUNG, ‘TIGER FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE’

Dr. Quentin Young | Health & Medicine Policy Research Group photo

Dr. Quentin Young | Health & Medicine Policy Research Group photo

Dr. Quentin Young provided medical care to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Mayor Harold Washington, the Beatles, Studs Terkel and Mike Royko. He ran a practice in Hyde Park, and his patients included Barack Obama.

But rather than the who’s who of his clients, admirers are remembering him for the what’s what. During a 60-year career, Dr. Young was a fierce advocate for quality health care for all and for the construction of Stroger Hospital.

He died Monday at his daughter’s home in Berkeley, California. Dr. Young was 92.

“The Cook County family has lost a giant in public health,” said Dr. Claudia Fegan, executive medical director of the Cook County Health & Hospitals System.

“Dr. Young was a radical, a rebel, a tiger for social justice,” health consultant Michael Gelder said.

In 2008, when he declared Quentin Young Day in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn said his health adviser “stood up for patients everywhere, advocating for what he believed to be right – even when it meant risk to his personal safety or his livelihood. . . . Time has consistently shown Quentin Young to be on the right side of history, and his advocacy has bettered his community and the health care industry as a whole.”

The Hyde Park resident — who could safely be called an old lefty — frequently clashed with officials who brought him in to run things because of his expertise and reputation, only to discover he was hard to muzzle and control. He was steadfastly against U.S. participation in the Vietnam War, and pro-labor and civil rights. One of Dr. Young’s favorite sayings was, “Everybody In, Nobody Out,” which became the title of his autobiography.

In the 1950s, he worked to desegregate Chicago hospitals. In the early 1960s, he helped start the Medical Committee for Human Rights, an arm of the civil rights movement. He marched in Selma and tended the injuries and illnesses that befell Freedom Riders in the South.

Dr. Quentin Young | File photo

Dr. Quentin Young | File photo

Later, he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee because the Medical Committee for Human Rights was viewed as a Communist-friendly group, said Margie Schaps, executive director of the Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, which Dr. Young chaired.

In 1966, when King was struck in the head by a projectile while marching through jeering white protesters in Marquette Park, it was Dr. Young who patched him up.

And when police batons battered protesters during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Dr. Young dressed the wounds. “To see such a disintegration of norms was very hard,” he once said in an interview. During the Chicago Seven trial, he treated ‘Yippee’ Abbie Hoffman.

He chaired Cook County Hospital in the 1970s. His support of activist doctors who lobbied for unionization and improved patient care led to conflicts, Schaps said: “Quentin was proud of this — he was fired three times, but he always got his job back.”

In the early 1980s, he helped found the Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, which studies the impact of social factors on health, including education, income and environmental toxins.

During Washington’s administration, the mayor tapped Dr. Young to head the city Board of Health.

And “Beginning in the late 1980s, he was perhaps the nation’s most eloquent and high-profile spokesperson for single-payer national health insurance,” according to a statement from the group Physicians for a National Health Program.

His advocacy for a single-payer system left him at odds with Obama on how the Affordable Care Act turned out.

In 2001, at 78, Dr. Young trekked 167 miles across Illinois with Quinn — his patient — to promote health care initiatives.

He walked with a bounce, and people gravitated toward him because of his erudition, Gelder said. The physician could quote from the Greek classics and George Bernard Shaw.

Dr. Young loved talking with King so much that he tried to stretch their encounters. When King had a cold, “I took a 15-minute house call and made it a three-hour afternoon with the master,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times.

His mother and father were Eastern European immigrants. They met in North Carolina, where her family had a general store. “They were the only Jews for miles around,” said his daughter, Polly. Young Quentin’s future activism was stirred by witnessing the hard lives of African-American sharecroppers in North Carolina, she said. Later, his father earned a pharmacy degree from Fordham University. The Youngs settled in Hyde Park and his father sold real estate.

Dr. Young went to Hyde Park High School, the University of Chicago and Northwestern University’s medical school.

He took his children on medical rounds, and to meetings, demonstrations and visits with King.

In the latter part of his career, he had a WBEZ radio show on health and medicine.

In 1960, he and his first wife, Jessie, divorced. He married Ruth Weaver in 1980. She died in 2007. He is survived by two more daughters, Nancy and Barbara; two sons, Ethan and Michael; his stepchildren, Karin and William Weaver; nine grandchildren and two step-great-grandchildren. A Chicago memorial is being planned.

He summarized his philosophy in his autobiography. “From my adolescent years to the present, I’ve never wavered in my belief in humanity’s ability – and our collective responsibility – to bring about a more just and equitable social order. I’ve always believed in humanity’s potential to create a more caring society.”

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JAMES SHELDON, PROLIFIC TV DIRECTOR

James Sheldon Dead

Directors Guild of America

March 20, 2016 | 12:52PM PT

TV director James Sheldon, who worked on hundreds of shows including “The Millionaire,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Fugitive,” “Batman” and many more, died March 12. He was 95.

His son, Tony, told the New York Times that Sheldon died of complications from cancer at his Manhattan home.

Sheldon once estimated that he directed about 1,200 episodes of television over his long career. Among them are 44 episodes of “The Millionaire,” an entire season of “The Bing Crosby Show” and several episodes of “Room 222,” “Love, American Style,” “That Girl,” “The Fugitive” and “My Three Sons.” He also directed the pilot of “Family Affair.”

His career also included six episodes in the second and third seasons of “The Twilight Zone,” featuring such classics as “I Sing the Body Electric” and “A Penny for Your Thoughts.” He helmed an episode of “Batman” in 1966, featuring Julie Newmar as Catwoman.

The helmer had a unique role in the career of James Dean, who he directed in “Harvest,” a Thanksgiving family drama. Sheldon recommended Dean to star in series “I Remember Mama” after the show’s star Dick Van Patten was set to leave for military service — however, Van Patten was declared unfit for service and stayed with the series.

Among Sheldon’s many other credits are “The Virginian,” “Death Valley Days,” “Armstrong Circle Theatre,” “Wagon Train,” “Zane Grey Theatre,” “Studio 57,” “Naked City,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Perry Mason,” “The Waltons,” “M*A*S*H*” and “Cagney & Lacey.” He never directed a feature film.

Manhattan native Sheldon, born Leonard James Schleifer, was accepted by the University of North Carolina’s resident theater company, the Carolina Playmakers, after high school.

He would go on to become a page, then tour guide, at NBC in the early ’40s. His first TV job came when he worked for a host of interview series “We, the People.” He then got a regular spot on “Mr. Peepers.”

Sheldon is survived by his two sons, Tony and James Jr., and three grandsons.

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KEITH EMERSON OF EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER

Coroner: Keith Emerson killed himself with a gun

 

Keith Emerson, the 1970s-era rock composer and keyboardist found dead last week, committed suicide by gun shot, the Los Angeles coroner’s office reported.

Ed Winter, spokesman for the county Medical Examiner’s Office, said Monday the autopsy confirmed the cause of death was a shot from a .38 revolver. He said the death was ruled a suicide.

Emerson, one-third and co-founder of the influential British band Emerson, Lake & Palmer, was found dead early Friday when his longtime companion, Mari Kawaguchi, 52, returned home to their condominium in Santa Monica, Calif.

Winter said the autopsy report on Emerson, 71, showed he suffered from heart disease and depression.

Carl Palmer, another member of the band, eulogized his friend and said on his website that he was organizing a tribute concert in June.

Palmer announced Emerson’s death on his website on Friday.

“Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come. He was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz.”

Emerson’s next-of-kin were listed as his two sons from a previous marriage.

EL&P was acclaimed in the 1970s for its orchestral approach to rock, drawing on classical and jazz styles and employing complicated rhythms and chords. It was also dismissed by traditional rock critics as pompous and over-the-top. But the band helped open audiences to the idea that rock music could be more than just three guitar chords and dance beats.

The band was founded in 1970 and broke up in 1979, reunited in 1991, later disbanded again and reunited one last time for a 2010 tour. In between, Emerson, a classically trained musician and a child prodigy, continued to compose music and perform, sometimes solo and other times with various musicians

Kawaguchi told the Associated Press that before his death, Emerson had been working with symphonies, including two in Germany and Japan, and was about to embark on a short tour in Japan starting on April 14 with his band. His work included a classical piano concerto.

She tweeted Monday a link to a YouTube video of one of his compositions, written on the day of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, she said.

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