• 3 July 2016
  • Director Michael Cimino receives the Pardo D'Onore Swisscom( (09 August 2015)Image copyright Getty Images

The director of the 1978 Vietnam War film The Deer Hunter has died, his friend and former lawyer has confirmed.

Mr. Cimino, left, with Robert De Niro, in beret, during the filming of “The Deer Hunter” in Bangkok in 1977. Credit:  NEAL ULEVICH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Double Oscar winner Michael Cimino’s body was found at his Los Angeles home on Saturday, Eric Weissmann said.

Cimino, 77, who directed a total of eight films, will be remembered for a career of highs and lows.

While The Deer Hunter has been hailed as one of the best movies in Hollywood history, his next project, Heaven’s Gate, was derided as a flop.

A scene from Heaven’s Gate, filmed in Wyoming. It took almost a year and more than $40 million to make. Credit:  MGM, via Photofest

Mr Weissmann said Cimino’s body was found after friends had been unable to contact him. No cause of death has yet been determined.

The Deer Hunter with its famous Russian roulette scene starred Robert de Niro and Christopher Walken and won five Oscars including the award for the best film in 1979.

It chronicles the lives of a group of friends from a Pennsylvania town and the devastating effect of the Vietnam War, both on those who fought in it and those who stayed at home in small-town America.

“Our work together is something I will always remember. He will be missed,” De Niro said in a statement.

Based on the success of The Deer Hunter, Cimino wrote and directed Heaven’s Gate, loosely based on the Wyoming Johnson County war of 1889-93.

It was a financial disaster that went four times over budget and a year behind schedule, It nearly bankrupted the United Artists studio.

But the film, starring Christopher Walken and Kris Kristofferson, has more recently been hailed as a masterpiece.

Cimino in his earlier career was an advertising executive who moved into film with the Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges crime caper, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, in 1974.

He also directed Desperate Hours (1990), starring Mickey Rourke and Anthony Hopkins, and the gangster film The Sicilian (1986), adapted from a novel by Godfather author Mario Puzo.

Correspondents say Heaven’s Gate led to the demise of director-driven productions in the late 1970s and the imposition of tighter controls on film budgets.




3 July 2016

The Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel has died aged 87.

He died in the US, where he lived and had been a citizen since the 1960s.

He became famous after writing about his experiences as a teenager in Nazi concentration camps, where he lost his mother, father and younger sister.

He dedicated his life to ensuring the atrocities committed under the Nazis were never forgotten, and the president of the World Jewish Congress has called him “a beacon of light”.

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance centre announced his death on Saturday.

US President Barack Obama said Mr Wiesel was “one of the great moral voices of our time”.

Elie Wiesel was born in Romania in 1928. In 1940 his town, Sighet, was part of a region that was annexed by Hungary. Four years later the town’s entire Jewish population, including 15-year-old Elie and his family, was deported to Auschwitz.

file pic of Elie Wiesel (taken in 2015)Image: Reuters
Elie Wiesel lost three members of his family in Nazi death camps

Mr Wiesel’s mother and one sister were killed in Nazi death chambers. His father died of starvation and dysentery in the Buchenwald camp. Two other sisters survived.

After the war, Mr Wiesel lived in a French orphanage and went on to become a journalist.

He wrote more than 60 books, starting with Night, a memoir based on his experiences in the death camps.

It included the lines: “For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living.

“To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

‘Take sides’

Mr Wiesel’s use of the term Holocaust helped cement the word’s association with Nazi atrocities against the Jews.

In 1986, he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his role in speaking out against violence, repression and racism.

When accepting it, he said: “Whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation, take sides.

“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

After Mr Wiesel’s death, the head of the World Jewish Congress said he was “undoubtedly one of the great Jewish teachers and thinkers of the past 100 years”.

Ronald S Lauder said: “We have lost the most articulate witness to history’s greatest crime.

“His passing leaves a void that will be impossible to fill. At the same time, his writings will live on.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Elie Wiesel “served as a ray of light and an example of humanity that believes in the goodness of man”.

The country’s president, Reuven Rivlin, called him “a hero of the Jewish People, and a giant of all humanity”, while Barack Obama said he was “not just the world’s most prominent Holocaust survivor, he was a living memorial”.

Mr Wiesel leaves a wife, Marion, who also survived the Holocaust, as well as a son, Elisha.




  • 29 June 2016
Mack RiceImage copyright:  Alamy

Mack Rice, the composer who wrote Mustang Sally, has died in Detroit at the age of 82.

His wife Laura Rice confirmed he died at their home on Monday of complications resulting from Alzheimer’s disease.

Rice started out as a singer in the 1950s with his band The Falcons before becoming a solo singer and songwriter.

As a composer, he is also known for co-writing one of the Staple Singers’ biggest hits, Respect Yourself.

His funeral is set to take place on 7 July.

Wilson Pickett
Wilson Pickett made Mustang Sally a hit when he recorded it in 1967

Rice originally recorded Mustang Sally himself in 1965, but the song was not initially a hit.

It became a chart success two years later, after Rice’s former Falcons bandmate Wilson Pickett asked if he could record it.

Mustang Sally’s popularity led Rice to focus on a career as a song writer.

“When he wrote Mustang Sally and he saw that royalty cheque, he started writing,” Laura Rice said.

“He never thought it would ever be as big as it became. He used to tell me, ‘Honey that Mustang has rolled a long time.'”

Rice went on to write songs mostly for the Motown and Stax record labels.

Etta James, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Albert King and Ike And Tina Turner are among artists who have sung songs written by Rice.




  • 30 June 2016
Toffler on a BBC Horizon show, 1995
Alvin Toffler appeared on a BBC Horizon show in 1995 discussing IT in warfare

Alvin Toffler, the author of Future Shock and other works predicting social, economic and technological change, has died at the age of 87.

Future Shock, which sold 15 million copies, defined people’s anxiety at the pace of social change in the 1960s.

Toffler popularised terms such as “information overload” and his works led world leaders and business moguls to seek his advice.

He predicted the rise of the internet and decline of the nuclear family.

He died in his sleep late on Monday at his home in Bel Air, Los Angeles.

Online chat rooms

Although many writers in the 1960s focused on social upheavals related to technological advancement, Toffler wrote in a page-turning style that made difficult concepts easy to understand.

Future Shock (1970) argued that economists who believed the rise in prosperity of the 1960s was just a trend were wrong – and that it would continue indefinitely.

The Third Wave, in 1980, was a hugely influential work that forecast the spread of emails, interactive media, online chat rooms and other digital advancements.

But among the pluses, he also foresaw increased social alienation, rising drug use and the decline of the nuclear family.

Space colonies

Not all of his futurist predictions have come to pass. He thought humanity’s frontier spirit would lead to the creation of “artificial cities beneath the waves” as well as colonies in space.

One of his most famous assertions was: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, China Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang and Mexican business guru Carlos Slim were among those who sought his advice.

The futurologist, also termed futurist by some, was born to Jewish Polish immigrants in 1928 and honed his theories working for IBM and other technology firms in the 60s.

Toffler is survived by his wife, Heidi, with whom he collaborated on many of his books.




Credit: Associated Press

Not Forgotten: Medgar Evers, Whose Assassination Reverberated Through the Civil Rights Movement


In Elie Wiesel’s Work, Many Found Words That Seared, and Soared

In the worlds of politics and art, many recalled being moved by Elie Wiesel’s unflinching chronicles of the Holocaust, and by the profound questions he raised.

Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Not Forgotten: Upton Sinclair, Whose Muckraking Changed the Meat Industry


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