IN REMEMBRANCE: 12-4-2016

OUSMANE SOW, SCULPTOR OF LARGER-THAN-LIFE FIGURES

Ousmane Sow on the Pont des Arts in Paris in 1999 with his works that were exhibited there. Credit Raphael Gaillarde/Gamma-Rapho, via Getty Images

Ousmane Sow, often called the Auguste Rodin of Senegal, who earned an international reputation for his expressive sculptures of the Nuba, Masai and other African peoples, died on Thursday in Dakar, Senegal. He was 81.

The death was reported by Agence France-Presse.

Mr. Sow (pronounced So) spent much of his life as a physical therapist but in his 50s became a full-time sculptor.

After seeing the German photographer Leni Riefenstahl’s book on the Nuba people of southern Sudan, he executed a series of larger-than-life-size sculptures of Nuba wrestlers. Exhibited outside the French Cultural Center in Dakar in 1987, the Nuba series marked Mr. Sow as a talent of the first order.

He made good on that initial impression with a series of sculptures on the Masai of Kenya and Tanzania, the Zulus of South Africa and the nomadic Fulanis of West Africa. Working without drawings, and relying on his intimate knowledge of the human anatomy from his years working as a physical therapist, he created imposing, rough-textured figures, bristling with energy, that seemed to embody the fierce spirit of postcolonial Africa.

He reached an international audience when his work was selected for the 1993 edition of the art festival Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and the Venice Biennale two years later. In 1999, his African series and a large-scale tableau of the Battle of Little Bighorn, displayed on the Pont des Arts in Paris, attracted three million visitors. In 2013, he became the first African artist elected as a foreign associate member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France.

He was enrolled in a French school at the age of 7 and studied the Quran in the afternoons and on weekends at a religious school. He was attracted to sculpture early on, gathering stones on the beach and shaping them into small figurines.

After earning a business diploma, he left for France in 1957. He struggled in Paris, relying at first on handouts and working menial jobs. Responding to an advertisement for a course in massage, he earned a diploma in nursing at Laennec Hospital. He went on to study with Boris Dolto, a pioneer of orthopedics and kinesiology in France.

A few years after Senegal gained its independence in 1960, Mr. Sow returned to Dakar and began offering physical therapy services at Le Dantec Hospital. Although dependent on what he called his “substitute profession,” Mr. Sow experimented with sculpture, exhibiting a bas-relief at the First World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar in 1966.

After returning to Paris, he used his office as a makeshift studio. He fabricated marionettes and cast them in a short 16-millimeter film that told the story of an extraterrestrial who traveled to Earth. He also made small, puppetlike sculptures that he gave to friends or discarded.

He returned to Senegal in the early 1980s intending to establish a physical therapy practice, but soon devoted himself completely to sculpture. Of his former profession, he once said: “Having worked with the body gave me freedom. I know just how far to go without creating a monster. I know the limits. If you don’t know the human body, or have a theoretical knowledge of proportion, you cannot be free.”

In his earlier work he employed unusual materials for lack of money. He shaped his figures over a metal armature with clay, plastic, stone, metal, jute, cloth, plaster and rubber, occasionally adding wooden eyes and teeth, as well as hair and clothing.

After his 1999 exhibition, he began using a bronze foundry to cast some of his earlier work and newer sculptures, including statues of Victor Hugo, Nelson Mandela and Charles de Gaulle.

His “Battle of Little Bighorn,” with 11 horses and 24 human figures, was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2003. In 2011 his sculpture “Toussaint L’Ouverture and the Old Slave” was the centerpiece of the exhibition “African Mosaic” at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, an exhibition that showcased the museum’s recent acquisitions. Created for the bicentennial of the French Revolution, the work celebrated the Haitian who led a slave revolt in Haiti in the late 18th century.

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ALICE DRUMMOND, CHARACTER ACTRESS KNOWN FOR  ‘AWAKENINGS’ AND ‘GHOSTBUSTERS’

Alice Drummond Dead

REX/Shutterstock
By Seth Kelley

December 3, 2016 | 08:39AM PT

Alice Drummond, a veteran stage actress who appeared in films including “Awakenings” and the original 1984 “Ghostbusters,” has died. She was 88.

She died on Wednesday at her home in the Bronx due to complications following a fall that she survived two months ago, according to the New York Times.

A native of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Drummond graduated from Pembroke College in 1950, which has since merged with Brown University. Her first break into Hollywood came in 1967 when she landed a role on the ABC soap opera “Dark Shadows.” Later Drummond would appear on other soaps including CBS’ “Where the Heart Is” and a short stint on “As the World Turns.” She would go on to enjoy a healthy film and television career spanning more than four decades.

On stage, Drummond had her turn in about a dozen Broadway shows including “The Chinese and Dr. Fish,” which earned her a Tony nomination for featured actress in a play in 1970. In 1976 she was nominated for a drama desk award for her performance in “A Memory of Two Mondays / 27 Wagons Full of Cotton.”

Although it is brief, perhaps her most famous role is in “Ghostbusters” playing the librarian who is terrified when books and pages begin to fly off the shelves. Later in the film she is comically interrogated by Bill Murray’s character. Notably, she also played a patient in the 1990 Oliver Sacks biopic “Awakenings” and a nun in 2008’s “Doubt.”

Drummond is not survived by any immediate family members.

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JAMES DELLIGATTI, WHO CREATED THE BIG MAC

McDonald’s special burger heralded an era of growing reliance on novelty in fast food

By James R. Hagerty

The Wall Street Journal

Updated Nov. 30, 2016 2:08 p.m. ET

As a McDonald’s Corp. franchisee in the Pittsburgh area, Jim Delligatti in the mid-1960s believed the burgers-and-fries menu needed something bigger and jazzier. He came up with the Big Mac, tested it in one of his restaurants and saw it swiftly become a national sensation, heralding an era of ever-increasing reliance on novelty in fast food.

Mr. Delligatti died Monday at his home in Fox Chapel, a suburb of Pittsburgh, his family said. He was 98 years old.

He came up with the idea for the Big Mac in 1965 and first served it at his Uniontown, Pa., McDonald’s outlet in 1967. The hamburger features two beef patties, a mildly tangy sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions slathered over a soft sesame-seed bun sliced into three layers. The original price was 45 cents, compared with an average of about $5 today. McDonald’s put the Big Mac on its national menu in 1968.

Mr. Delligatti acknowledged that the Big Mac was derived from double-deck hamburgers made popular by rival fast-food restaurants. “This wasn’t like discovering the lightbulb,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1993. “The bulb was already there. All I did was screw it in the socket.” Even so, his initiative helped launch McDonald’s on a long-running diversification of a menu once limited to little more than basic hamburgers, fries, shakes and soft drinks.

The corporate headquarters initially opposed Mr. Delligatti’s plan to use a triple-deck bun with sesame seeds, said Michael Delligatti, one of his sons. But the elder Mr. Delligatti went ahead with the new bun anyway. Without it, he thought, the Big Mac would be too sloppy.

The original price for McDonald’s Big Mac was 45 cents in 1967, compared with an average of about $5 today. The fast-food chain put the Big Mac, invented by franchisee Jim Delligatti, on its national menu in 1968. 
The original price for McDonald’s Big Mac was 45 cents in 1967, compared with an average of about $5 today. The fast-food chain put the Big Mac, invented by franchisee Jim Delligatti, on its national menu in 1968. Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

In recent years, the Big Mac’s appeal has faded as McDonald’s has struggled to find ways to entice customers back from rivals whose food is widely seen as fresher, healthier and hipper. The Big Mac “has gotten less relevant,” a top McDonald’s franchisee wrote in a memo to other operators in July. Only one in five millennials has tried a Big Mac, the memo said.

“We still sell lots of Big Macs,” said Michael Delligatti. He added that he didn’t oppose tinkering with the original formula, such as by adding Sriracha sauce.

Mr. Delligatti didn’t receive royalties on Big Mac sales. “All I got was a plaque,” he once said.

Michael James Delligatti was born Aug. 2, 1918, in Uniontown, about 45 miles south of Pittsburgh. His father worked as a shoe cobbler and candy maker. The younger Mr. Delligatti attended school in Uniontown and in Fairmont, W.Va., then served in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. After the war, he hitchhiked to California and found work in drive-in restaurants there.

In 1953, he and a partner opened Delney’s Drive-In Restaurant in Pittsburgh. Two years later, Mr. DelliGatti met Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, at a restaurant trade show in Chicago. He became a franchisee of McDonald’s in 1957, opening an outlet in Pittsburgh, the first in western Pennsylvania.

Mr. Delligatti’s initiative helped launch McDonald’s on a long-running diversification of a menu once limited to little more than basic hamburgers, fries, shakes and soft drinks. 
Mr. Delligatti’s initiative helped launch McDonald’s on a long-running diversification of a menu once limited to little more than basic hamburgers, fries, shakes and soft drinks. Photo: McDonald’s

Mr. Delligatti is survived by his wife, Ellie, two sons, five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. His two sons and two of his grandchildren are McDonald’s franchisees. In all, the family owns and operates 21 McDonald’s restaurants in western Pennsylvania.

In 2007, the family opened a McDonald’s Big Mac Museum Restaurant in North Huntingdon, Pa., near Pittsburgh.

Mr. Delligatti also innovated by coming up with an early version of the chain’s breakfast offerings—hotcakes and sausages initially aimed at steelworkers returning home from overnight shifts.

He wasn’t alone among franchisees in coming up with a hit product. McDonald’s said other franchisees invented the Egg McMuffin and the Filet-O-Fish.

Mr. Delligatti’s charitable contributions included backing for the Ronald McDonald House in Pittsburgh, which provides a refuge for families traveling to the area to get medical care for their children.

Write to James R. Hagerty at bob.hagerty@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications:
In 1953, Mr. Delligatti and a partner opened Delney’s Drive-In Restaurant in Pittsburgh. In all, the family owns and operates 21 McDonald’s restaurants in western Pennsylvania. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the name of the drive-in as well as the number restaurants owned by Mr. Delligatti’s family. (Nov. 30, 2016)

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PENG CHANG-KUEI, CREDITED AS CREATOR OF GENERAL TSO’S CHICKEN

December 2, 2016 

Peng Chang-kuei, a vaunted Hunanese chef who was widely credited as the creator of General Tso’s chicken, a dish that evolved into the deep-fried, sticky and unabashedly inauthentic staple of the American Chinese take-out joint, died Nov. 30 at a hospital in Taipei, Taiwan. He was 97.The cause was a lung infection, said his son Chuck Peng.Once the personal chef to the Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek, Mr. Peng was one of the preeminent Chinese cooks of his generation. He fled mainland China after the Communist Revolution of 1949 and settled in Taiwan, where he sought to uphold the culinary traditions of his native Hunan province.

Those traditions included no such dish as General Tso’s chicken, despite its modern reputation outside China as a regional classic. Mr. Peng said that he devised the recipe for a banquet in the 1950s. He named it in honor of Zuo Zongtang, a celebrated Hunanese general of the 19th century who helped crush the Taiping Rebellion, an uprising that cost tens of millions of lives.

“In America, General Tso, like Colonel Sanders, is known for chicken, not war,” journalist Jennifer 8. Lee wrote in her book “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food.” “In China, he is known for war, not chicken.”

As it was conceived, General Tso’s chicken bore little similarity to the dish known to American diners today. The modern iteration is “sweet, it’s fried and it’s chicken, which are all things that Americans love,” Lee said in an interview, noting the vague resemblance of a bite of General Tso’s to a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget slathered in sauce.

Mr. Peng’s original recipe called for chicken with bones and skin, according to Lee. The chicken was not fried, and it was served sans the piquantly sweet sauce, relying instead on garlic and soy sauce for flavor. It did have chilies, as does modern General Tso’s, but no broccoli.

The arrival in the United States of General Tso’s chicken coincided with another milestone in U.S.-Sino relations, President Richard M. Nixon’s opening of China in the early 1970s.

Exactly where the dish debuted is a matter of debate, however, with claims laid by New York eateries including Shun Lee and Mr. Peng’s now shuttered Peng’s, which was located several blocks from the United Nations building. A frequent diner at Peng’s was Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s secretary of state, whom Mr. Peng credited with promoting Hunanese cuisine over the then more widely available Cantonese fare.

Mr. Peng, as well as other chefs who adopted the recipe, adjusted it for the American palate.

“The original General Tso’s chicken was Hunanese in taste, and made without sugar,” Mr. Peng told Fuchsia Dunlop, a scholar of Chinese food, “but when I began cooking for non-Hunanese people in the United States, I altered the recipe. Of course I still love the old flavors, the hot and sour and salty tastes, but people these days don’t like them, so I’ve always had to change and improve my cooking methods.”

By 1977, at least one food critic had given Mr. Peng’s rendition of General Tso’s her imprimatur. It is “a stir-fried masterpiece, sizzling hot broth in flavor and temperature,” Mimi Sheraton wrote in a New York Times review of Mr. Peng’s restaurant.

Within a decade, General Tso’s chicken was a mainstay of hole-in-the-wall, all-you-can-eat buffets. Particularly on the East Coast, it became “virtually synonymous with Hunanese cuisine,” Dunlop wrote in an account of the dish.

But “what is clear is that the dish is all but unknown in Hunan itself. When I went to Hunan for the first time in 2003, mention of it drew blank looks from everyone I met,” she recalled. Any “assertions that General Tso’s chicken is a traditional Hunanese dish and one that the general himself liked eating do not stand up to any scrutiny.”

Peng Chang-kuei was born on Sept. 26, 1919, to a farming family in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. He reportedly ran away from home and became an apprentice to Cao Jingchen, a noted chef.

After Japan invaded China in the 1930s, Mr. Peng moved to Chongqing, then to Taiwan. Perhaps the first American to taste General Tso’s chicken was Adm. Arthur W. Radford, who visited Taiwan as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1955 and dined at a banquet catered by Mr. Peng, according to Dunlop’s account.

During his decades as a chef, Mr. Peng ran restaurants in Changsha and Taipei. He was married three times and had seven children, six of whom survive, along with numerous grandchildren.

Toward the end of his life, Mr. Peng was interviewed for “The Search for General Tso” (2014), a documentary exploring the origins of his by then ubiquitous dish. He seemed bemused — perhaps slightly appalled — by photographs of General Tso’s chicken as it is served today, with its generously, even munificently, battered and glazed chunks of boneless meat. “This,” he quipped, “is all crazy nonsense.”

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MILT MOSS, ACTOR IN CLASSIC ALKA-SELTZER AD

Milt Moss Credit Miles Laboratories

Milt Moss, a comic actor who delivered the rueful catchphrase “I can’t believe I ate that whole thing” in a memorable commercial for Alka-Seltzer in 1972, died on Sept. 26 in Manhattan. He was 93.

His nephew Roger Fox announced the death this week.

Mr. Moss was a nightclub comedian and master of ceremonies in the tradition of Henny Youngman. His comedy was based around well-trodden one-liners, bits and imitations.

He opened for performers like the singer Robert Goulet and appeared on television with Milton Berle, Merv Griffin and Johnny Carson. He was also known as a master of the put-on, convincing unwitting audiences at official events that he was a legitimate speaker, like a chief executive or ambassador, and then slowly veering from the reasonable into the absurd before revealing that he was a comedian.

And he appeared in commercials, of which the most famous was the Alka-Seltzer spot. Written by Howie Cohen and directed by Bob Pasqualina, it featured Mr. Moss sitting on the side of his bed with a hangdog expression. He slowly shakes his head while repeating the line “I can’t believe I ate that whole thing.” (The line is often remembered as “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”)

The commercial struck a chord with dyspeptic viewers around the country, and in 1977 it was admitted to the advertising industry’s Clio Awards Hall of Fame. The advertisement made Mr. Moss recognizable to a national audience, helping him book more conventions, club dates and TV appearances.

“That commercial changed my whole life,” Mr. Moss told the television historian Kliph Nesteroff in an interview in 2011.

Milton Moss was born in the Bronx on Oct. 25, 1922, to Anton Moss and the former Eva Goldstein. His father was a comedian who performed as Eddie Clarke.

Mr. Moss attended New York University after graduating from high school. He then served in the Army from 1942 until 1945, entertaining troops at a facility in Belgium during World War II, and after his discharge turned to comedy and acting full time.

In the 1950s, he performed as a comedian and puppeteer on the Ray Heatherton children’s show “The Merry Mailman.” In 1965 he appeared on an episode of “The Patty Duke Show.”

He married Dorothy Gorman in 1956. She died in 2000. No immediate family members survive.

Correction: December 2, 2016
An earlier version of this obituary, using information from Mr. Moss’s family, misstated when he attended New York University. It was before, not after, he served in the Army.
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