ARNOLD PALMER, THE ‘KING OF GOLF’
Hans Deryk / Reuters
September 25, 2016
Arnold Palmer, one of the most renowned professional golfers of the 20th century, died on Sunday. He was 87 years old.
Nicknamed “the King,” Palmer’s exploits on the green in the postwar boom years helped transform golf from a patrician country-club hobby into a mass-marketable sport. Charming and aggressive, his unique play style won him legions of fans, a following he later harnessed to build a small business empire.
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From 1958 through 1964, Palmer was the charismatic face of professional golf and one of its dominant players. In those seven seasons, he won seven major titles: four Masters, one United States Open and two British Opens. With 62 victories on the PGA Tour, he ranks fifth, behind Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan. He won 93 tournaments worldwide, including the 1954 United States Amateur.
But it was more than his scoring and shotmaking that captivated the sports world. It was how he played. He did not so much navigate a course as attack it. If his swing was not classic, it was ferocious: He seemed to throw all 185 pounds of his muscular 5-foot-10 body at the ball. If he did not win, he at least lost with flair.
In 2004, Palmer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for his lifelong devotion to the sport he helped popularize. Congress also awarded him a Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
“For more than 50 years, over thousands of miles of fairway, and in 92 professional championships, Arnold has given his all, playing with style and a daring that changed the game of golf,” President George W. Bush said at the 2004 ceremony. “He drew millions of fans, and every big crowd we see at a golf tournament today started with Arnie’s Army.”
RICHARD TRENTLAGE, AD MAN WHO WROTE ICONIC OSCAR MAYER WEINER JINGLE
The big hits of 1963 included “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Puff the Magic Dragon” and, in England anyway, a rush of hits by some next big thing called The Beatles, but in terms of sheer recall-ability, a song from that year by advertising executive Richard Trentlage might best them all. It begins, “Oh I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer weiner…”
Trentlage, a former ad man with McCann-Erickson and D’Arcy who wrote the Oscar Mayer jingle, died of congestive heart failure at 87 on September 21 at a hospital in Libertyville, Ill. His death was confirmed by his daughter Linda Bruun to The New York Times.
Trentlage also wrote memorable jingles for McDonald’s (“McDonald’s is your kind of place!”) and V-8 (“It sure doesn’t taste like tomato juice”), but it was the Oscar Mayer Weiner Song (initially called “The Marching Song” by the ad team) that would go on to hover near the top of countless “Greatest Jingle” lists over the decades. Though the opening line is sometimes remembered as “Oh, I wish I were…” rather than the original “Oh, I’d love to be…,” the song remains firmly entrenched in at least several generations of impressionable TV-absorbing minds.
Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener.
That is what I’d truly like to be.
‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener,
Everyone would be in love with me.
Oh, I’m glad I’m not an Oscar Mayer wiener.
That is what I’d never want to be.
Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener.
There would soon be nothing left of me!
Trentlage often told the story of the song’s origins: After learning of a jingle contest being sponsored by the deli meat company, Trentlage was inspired by his young son’s comment that he wished he could be “a dirt-bike hot dog” like his cool friend. The tune won the contest, and served as the company’s signature tune from 1963 until 2010. It’s only rival in customers’ hearts was its corporate sibling song that begins “My baloney has a first name…”
Trentlage was born on Dec. 27, 1928, and is survived by a wife, two sons, two daughters, two stepdaughters, a stepson and 19 grandchildren.
AGNES NIXON, CREATOR OF POPULAR DAYTIME SOAP OPERA ‘ALL MY CHILDREN’
LOS ANGELES — Agnes Nixon, the creative force behind the enduring TV soap operas “One Life to Live” and “All My Children,” has died. She was 93.
Ms. Nixon died Wednesday at a Haverford, Pa., physical rehabilitation facility close to her Rosemont home, said her son, Bob Nixon. She had checked in to gain strength for a planned book tour, he said.
She had just completed her memoir, “My Life to Live,” on Sunday, a week before it was due to publisher Penguin Random House for publication in early 2017, her son said.
“She was really a great wife, mother and human being — but above all, a writer. She was writing up until last night,” he said, and had called him with a few changes for the book.
The cause of death was not immediately known, he said.
Ms. Nixon suffered a stroke four years ago with serious complications, her son said, but she fought to regain her health. He confirmed her birth month as December 1922, despite media reports that she was 88.
Ms. Nixon created, wrote and produced the long-running ABC daytime serials, which were canceled in 2011 as the network bowed to the reality that soaps had faded as a daytime TV force. Both subsequently had short-lived online runs.
“All My Children” aired for nearly 41 years, while “One Life to Live” made it to 44 years. They were set in the fictional Philadelphia-area towns of Pine Valley and Llanview.
Social issues including child abuse, AIDS, alcoholism and gay rights made their way into the series’ story lines. Erica Kane was the first regularly appearing TV character to undergo a legal abortion, in 1973.
In a 2003 episode of “All My Children,” Bianca, who was Erica’s daughter, and the character Lena shared what was billed as daytime TV’s first same-sex kiss.
“The theme of ‘All My Children’ from the beginning is the belief that, as God’s children, we are all bound to each other by our common humanity, despite our many personal differences,” Ms. Nixon said at the time. “The Bianca story is our latest effort to dramatize that belief.”
“Agnes’ impact on daytime television and pop culture is undeniable,” said Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of ABC parent The Walt Disney Co., in a statement. “She was the first to champion socially relevant topics, and the towns and characters Agnes brought to life leave an indelible imprint on television that will be remembered forever.”
Ms. Nixon, a native of Chicago, was mentored by the grande dame of the soap opera genre, Irna Phillips, back in the radio age.
She was writing for a TV soap, “Search for Tomorrow,” as early as 1951. In the late 1960s, while raising a family and serving as head writer for “The Guiding Light,” Ms. Nixon created a “bible” detailing “All My Children.”
The show was rejected by CBS, but after Ms. Nixon breathed new life into NBC’s flagging “Another World,” she was approached by ABC to create a new serial. That was the start of “One Life to Live,” which earned such solid ratings in its first year that ABC asked for another.
“I said to my husband, ‘I can’t think of another one,’” Ms. Nixon told the AP in 2013. “He said, ‘How about “All My Children”?’ So I opened the desk drawer and took out the ‘bible’ and sent it to ABC. They said, ‘Boy, that was fast work!’”
The stories and characters of Ms. Nixon’s fictional worlds never ended for her, Bob Nixon said: “It might not have been on the air but it was in her head.”
Agnes Nixon was married to the late Robert Nixon, and the couple’s four children are among her survivors. Services were planned for Saturday in Rosemont, with a private burial to follow.
SHIMON PERES, THE LAST OF ISRAEL’S FOUNDING LEADERS
Greg Myre and Emily Harris
The last surviving leader of Israel’s founding generation, Shimon Peres was a three-time prime minister, the architect of the country’s secretive nuclear program and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to make peace with the Palestinians.
Peres, who died Tuesday at 93 according to Israeli officials, was at the center of recurring Middle East dramas throughout his more than six decades of public life. Still in his mid-20s, Peres was put in charge of securing weapons for the main paramilitary in Israel’s 1948 war of independence, and he remained in prominent roles until he stepped down as the country’s president in 2014, at age 90.
In a remarkable career filled with great triumphs and bitter setbacks, he held more senior positions than any other Israeli, often at pivotal moments in the country’s turbulent history. In addition to his tenures as president and prime minister, he served as foreign minister (three times), defense minister (twice), finance minister and transportation minister in Israel’s ever-rotating coalition governments.
However, Peres was unable to obtain the prize he sought most: an Israel fully at peace with its Arab neighbors. And while Peres was celebrated internationally, he always struggled in Israeli elections, and many Palestinians felt his actions fell far short of his dovish proclamations.
Immigrant from Eastern Europe
Like many of Israel’s founders, Peres’ story began in a tiny Eastern European town. He was born Aug. 2, 1923, in Wiszniew, Poland, which is now Vishnyeva, Belarus. His family immigrated a decade later to what was then called Mandatory Palestine, under British rule.
In the first major Arab-Israeli war, in 1948, Peres played a key role in procuring arms for the Haganah, a militia that evolved into the Israeli military following the country’s independence. Peres was rapidly promoted within the Defense Ministry, becoming director general several years later at age 29.
That made Peres a central figure during the 1956 Suez Canal crisis, when Israel, Britain and France joined forces in a bid to seize the crucial waterway from Egypt. While the military operation was a success, the political blowback from the U.S. and the Soviet Union forced those three countries to retreat and return the canal to Egypt.
This episode reflected Peres’ more aggressive side during his younger years. Yossi Beilin, who would become a Peres ally and negotiate the secret Oslo Accord with the Palestinians in the 1990s, described Peres as “more hawkish than others” for decades.
Architect of Israel’s nuclear program
Peres, meanwhile, would also make his mark as the man who developed Israel’s nuclear program during the late 1950s.
“It was Shimon Peres who persuaded [Israel’s first prime minister] David Ben-Gurion in 1956-57 that the time was right to initiate the nuclear project. From the beginning Peres was entrusted by Ben-Gurion to lead Israel’s pursuit of a nuclear capability,” wrote Avner Cohen, a leading authority on Israel’s nuclear program.
Ben-Gurion and Peres believed a nuclear deterrent was crucial for the small, fledgling country surrounded by much larger Arab states. Peres rapidly built the program by working closely with France, a leading ally of Israel’s at the time.
“Of all the countries engaged in nuclear research and development, only France might be prepared to help us,” Peres would later write. “I believed, therefore, that all our diplomatic efforts should be focused on France.”
Israel does not discuss details of its nuclear program to this day, but according to the CIA and others it is widely believed to have 100 or more nuclear weapons.
Throughout the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, Peres moved from one top government job to another as coalition governments formed, fell apart and formed again. He was never far from the action whether it was a military, diplomatic or economic matter.
In the 1980s, Israel’s economy crashed as inflation spiked to more than 400 percent a year. Peres negotiated with union leaders, major employers and central bank officials and forged deals to cut wages and freeze prices, moves that helped stabilize the economy. In the years that followed, he would be a leading advocate of the country’s high-tech sector.
Peres first served as prime minister for just two months in 1977. He held the job again, from 1984-86, in an unusual arrangement brought on by a deadlocked election between his left-leaning Labor Party and the right-leaning Likud Party. Peres led the country for the first two years of a four-year term and was then replaced by the hawkish Yitzhak Shamir.
Secret peace talks
In 1987, the Palestinians launched an uprising, or intifada, that would last for six years. That was one of several developments, along with the Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, that led to a major international push to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Israelis and Palestinians held secret negotiations in Oslo, Norway, and reached an interim deal that was signed on the White House lawn in 1993. With President Clinton presiding, Israel was represented by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Peres, then the foreign minister, and the Palestinians by their leader, Yasser Arafat.
The agreement called for talks to permanently end the conflict, and though that deal still needed to be negotiated, the three men were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.
“Let us become a civic community,” Peres said in his speech on the White House lawn. “Let us bid once and for all farewell to wars, to threats, to human misery. Let us bid farewell to enmity, and may there be no more victims on either side.”
But it was not to be. The negotiations were fraught from the beginning. Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli ultra-nationalist in 1995. Peres took over as prime minister, but seven months later, he lost a tight election to the hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu and the peace talks largely stalled.
In 2000, the Palestinians launched a second uprising that would leave almost 1,000 Israelis and several thousand Palestinians dead over the next five years.
Peres issued repeated calls to revive negotiations, but he faced increasingly skeptical, if not outright hostile responses from both sides. He suffered repeated political bruises, said Collette Avital, who worked closely with him in the Foreign Ministry.
“He was the most hated man in Israel for many, many years. Nobody trusted him, nobody liked him, except a few of us,” Avital said.
While many Israelis criticized him for pursuing peace talks, some Palestinians distrusted him as a peacemaker.
Abdullah Abdullah, a longtime Palestinian foreign affairs official, said many Arabs were killed during Peres’ time in office. He recalled a 1996 fight between Israel and the Lebanese group Hezbollah. During that battle, the Israeli military fired artillery that killed more than 100 civilians taking shelter in a United Nations compound in southern Lebanon.
“Like makeup on an ugly face, he beautifies the face, the crimes of Israel,” Abdullah said of Peres.
Peres served in the mostly ceremonial position of president from 2007 to 2014, and celebrated his 90th birthday while still in office. Beilin says that in that role, Peres became an elder statesman respected both at home and abroad, rising above the hurly-burly of daily politics.
“In a way, he became the father of the nation. Belatedly. He had been so controversial. And suddenly he became a consensus [builder],” said Beilin. “Which was really a prize he deserved after all these years.”
President Obama said in a statement Wednesday that Peres “was guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress,” and that he changed the course of history through his moral foundation and “unflagging optimism.”
Peres suffered from a stroke two weeks ago and died Tuesday. His body will lie in state at Israel’s parliament on Thursday, and his funeral will be held Friday.
President Obama, Prince Charles and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, as well as other heads of state, will attend the funeral, Israel’s Foreign Ministry says.