BARBARA SMITH CONRAD, SINGER AT CENTER OF INTEGRATION
In spring 1957, two weeks before the opening of Henry Purcell’s opera “Dido and Aeneas” at the University of Texas at Austin, Barbara Smith, a 19-year-old mezzo-soprano, received some bad news. She would not be appearing as Dido, a role she had been rehearsing for months.
Ms. Smith was black. The singer cast as Aeneas was white. In the South, then emerging only slowly from strict segregation, this was a problem, even though the two principal characters do not kiss, embrace or even touch.
Joe Chapman, a Democrat in the State Legislature from Ms. Smith’s own district in the pine country of Northeast Texas, had taken the matter up with Logan Wilson, the university’s president. During their conversation, Mr. Chapman had told him that the opera’s casting might be bad publicity for the school, especially since the Legislature was preparing to vote on an appropriations bill.
Three days before the opera was scheduled to open, The Houston Post broke the story, under the headline “Negro Girl Out of UT Opera Cast.” The Daily Texan, the student newspaper, followed with an article the next day. Its reporter asked Mr. Chapman, a former Texas railroad commissioner, if he believed that the Legislature had the right to dictate policy to the university.
In a statement, the university said that it had made the casting change “to ensure Miss Smith’s well-being and to squelch any possibility that her appearance would precipitate a cut in the university’s appropriations.”
More than 100 students rose in protest. Eight state legislators expressed indignation. A petition circulated, gathering 1,500 signatures. Mr. Chapman was hanged in effigy from a balcony in the State Capitol.
Ms. Smith tried to smooth matters over. “After the first shock and hurt had passed,” she told The Daily Texan, “I began to realize that the ultimate success of integration at the university is much more important than my appearance in the opera.”
As wire services and Time magazine picked up the story, national figures spoke out, including Sidney Poitier and Eleanor Roosevelt. The singer Harry Belafonte stepped forward, offering to pay for Ms. Smith’s musical education at any school in the world.
Barbara Louise Smith was born on Aug. 11, 1937, in Atlanta, Tex., south of Texarkana. Growing up, she divided her time between Queen City, where she attended school, and the family house in Center Point, an all-black town near Pittsburg, Tex., that had been founded by freed slaves, among them her forebears. It no longer exists.
She grew up singing in the town’s Baptist choir and at home, where an older brother accompanied her on the piano. She idolized Marian Anderson, the black contralto and civil rights activist, whom she later played on television in the 1977 mini-series “Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years.”
In her sophomore year, a member of the music faculty heard her singing in a practice room and invited her to audition for the part of Dido. She did, successfully.
The prize was wrested from her after an anonymous employee at the university complained to Jerry Sadler, a Democratic legislator from Percilla. At a weekly breakfast attended by 40 legislators from East Texas, including Mr. Chapman, Mr. Sadler railed against the mixed-race casting.
After graduating, Ms. Smith, as she was still known, went to New York, where Mr. Belafonte introduced her to his friends in the arts. Mrs. Roosevelt paid her fare.
In 1965, she appeared as Bess in the New York City Opera’s production of “Porgy and Bess,” a work she revisited in 1985, when she sang the role of Maria at the Metropolitan Opera, with Grace Bumbry as Bess and Simon Estes as Porgy.
She also sang from the mezzo repertoire with leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the London, Boston, Cleveland and Detroit symphonies. She was a founder and the vocal director of the Wagner Theater Program at the Manhattan School of Music, which trained students for Wagnerian roles.
Ms. Conrad, whose marriage ended in divorce, leaves no immediate survivors.
In 2009, the Texas Legislature passed a resolution honoring Ms. Conrad for her achievements. In return, she gave a performance of “Amazing Grace” in the rotunda of the Capitol.
“She believed in forgiveness and reconciliation,” Dr. Carleton said. “She wanted to be treated as someone who accomplished things. She did not regard being a victim as an accomplishment.”
An obituary on Thursday about the opera singer Barbara Smith Conrad misstated the relationship between Ms. Conrad and Bettye Neal, who confirmed her death. Ms. Neal is Ms. Conrad’s cousin, not her niece.SOURCE
GREGG ALLMAN, INFLUENTIAL FORCE BEHIND THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND
Gregg Allman, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, the incendiary group that inspired and gave shape to both the Southern rock and jam-band movements, died on Saturday at his home in Savannah, Ga. He was 69.
His publicist, Ken Weinstein, said the cause was complications of liver cancer.
The band’s lead singer and keyboardist, Mr. Allman was one of the principal architects of a taut, improvisatory fusion of blues, jazz, country and rock that — streamlined by inheritors like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band — became the Southern rock of the 1970s.
The group, which originally featured Mr. Allman’s older brother, Duane, on lead and slide guitar, was also a precursor to a generation of popular jam bands, like Widespread Panic and Phish, whose music features labyrinthine instrumental exchanges.
Mr. Allman’s percussive Hammond B-3 organ playing helped anchor the Allman Brothers’ rhythm section and provided a chuffing counterpoint to the often heated musical interplay between his brother and the band’s other lead guitarist, Dickey Betts.
Gregg Allman’s vocals, by turns squalling and brooding, took their cue from the anguished emoting of down-home blues singers like Elmore James, as well as from more sophisticated ones like Bobby Bland. Foremost among Mr. Allman’s influences as a vocalist, though, was the Mississippi-born blues and soul singer and guitarist known as Little Milton.
“‘Little Milton’ Campbell had the strongest set of pipes I ever heard on a human being,” Mr. Allman wrote in his autobiography, “My Cross to Bear,” written with Alan Light (2012). “That man inspired me all my life to get my voice crisper, get my diaphragm harder, use less air and just spit it out. He taught me to be absolutely sure of every note you hit, and to hit it solid.”
The band’s main songwriter early on, Mr. Allman contributed expansive, emotionally fraught compositions like “Dreams” and “Whipping Post”to the Allman Brothers repertoire. Both songs became staples of their epic live shows; a cathartic 22-minute version of “Whipping Post” was a highlight of their acclaimed 1971 live album, “At Fillmore East.”
His final studio album, “Southern Blood,” produced by Don Was, was scheduled to be released this year. All his 2017 tour dates, including 10 nights at City Winery in New York in July, were canceled in mid-March.
In 1977, Mr. Allman and the singer Cher, to whom he was married at the time, released the album “Two the Hard Way.” (They were billed on the cover as Allman and Woman.) The project was poorly received by critics and the record-buying public alike.
Mr. Allman struggled for years with alcohol, heroin and other drugs, and entered treatment for them numerous times, before embarking on a path of recovery in the mid-1990s. He was later found to have hepatitis C and received a liver transplant in 2010.
He took up the guitar before Duane did, but he was a keyboardist and vocalist by the time the two worked together in local bands while they were in high school. As the Allman Joys, they played clubs in the South and recorded a single, a version of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful.”
In 1968, everyone in the band, except for Gregg, moved back to Florida after being released from their recording contract. He stayed behind when executives at Liberty decided he had commercial potential.
Duane joined a Jacksonville band, called the 31st of February, led by the future Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks. (Mr. Trucks died in January at 69.)
The group later added the bassist Berry Oakley, the percussionist Jai Johanny Johanson (known as Jaimoe) and Mr. Betts and became the Allman Brothers Band. They released their debut album in 1969 on Capricorn Records, an Atlantic imprint based in Macon, Ga. They also toured widely and developed a devoted following with their next two albums, “Idlewild South” and “At Fillmore East.”
On Oct. 29, 1971, just before the group achieved mainstream popularity, Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident. Mr. Oakley, the band’s bassist, died in another motorcycle crash — both accidents were in Macon — a little more than a year later.
“All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs and Voice of Gregg Allman,” an album recorded live in Atlanta that paid tribute to Mr. Allman’s enduring influence and reach, was released in 2015. It featured performances by Mr. Allman and by contemporaries and inheritors like the soul singer Sam Moore, the country star Vince Gill, Widespread Panic and the steel guitarist Robert Randolph, another jam-band favorite.
“It’s an exceptional feeling to see all those young folks at the shows,” Mr. Allman wrote in his autobiography, discussing the intergenerational appeal of the music that he and the Allmans created in the ’60s and ’70s.
DINA MERRILL, ACTRESS AND PHILANTHROPIST
Dina Merrill, the actress and heiress to two fortunes who wintered at her family’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., as a child before becoming a leading lady in movies, most often in upper-class roles, died on Monday at her home in East Hampton, N.Y. She was 93.
Her death was confirmed by her son, Stanley H. Rumbough, who said she had Lewy Body dementia.
An elegant presence in most of her 30 or so mid-20th-century movies, Ms. Merrill played the betrayed wife who loses both her husband, Laurence Harvey, and her mink coat to Elizabeth Taylor in “Butterfield 8” (1960); the chic fashion consultant who loses Glenn Ford to Shirley Jones in “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” (1963); and the steadfast socialite wife of an assistant district attorney played by Burt Lancaster in “The Young Savages” (1961).
In the submarine comedy “Operation Petticoat” (1959), her stranded Navy nurse ends up married to a slick lieutenant played by Tony Curtis.
The daughter of the Wall Street broker E. F. Hutton and the cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, Ms. Merrill grew up in luxury, spending up to six months a year on the Sea Cloud, the family yacht. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were among the guests on what has been described as a “floating palace” equipped with fireplaces, marble bathrooms, a barber shop and a wine cellar.
Home during the winter was the 115-room Mar-a-Lago estate, which was bought by Donald J. Trump in 1985 and converted into a private club. (Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump slept in the same children’s suite that Ms. Merrill had used.)
But as it turned out, the “someone else” was almost always a coolly sophisticated patrician woman not that different from the real Dina Merrill. Typical of her parts, in the 1959 television version of Budd Schulberg’s “What Makes Sammy Run?” she was the glamorous daughter of a Wall Street banker.
Although her father’s investments had earned her a million dollars by the time she became an actress, against his wishes, Ms. Merrill supported herself by modeling clothes for Vogue at $10 an hour.
She attended George Washington University, but dropped out after a year to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. In 1946 she married Stanley M. Rumbough Jr., heir to the Colgate-Palmolive consumer products fortune, and spent much of the next decade raising their three children. By the time she got her first movie role — as a young research assistant to Katharine Hepburn in “Desk Set” (1957), with Spencer Tracy — she was over 30.
Her subsequent roles included the bored upper-class wife of an Australian sheep rancher in the Deborah Kerr movie “The Sundowners” (1960), and the alcoholic wife of an entrepreneur played by the comedian Alan King in “Just Tell Me What You Want” (1980).
She returned to Broadway in 1975, starring as a wife whose husband is trying to drive her mad in a revival of the play “Angel Street.” In 1983 she played the manager of the Russian Ballet in a well-received Broadway revival of the Rodgers and Hart musical “On Your Toes.”
With an inheritance from her parents estimated at more than $50 million, Ms. Merrill became a philanthropist. A liberal Republican, she was vice chairwoman of the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition, an advocate on women’s health issues and vice president of the New York City Mission Society. After her son David, who had diabetes, died in a boating accident at age 23 in 1973, Ms. Merrill created a yearly award for scientific excellence in his name for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
After divorcing Mr. Robertson in 1986, Ms. Merrill married Ted Hartley, a former Navy fighter pilot, actor and investment banker, who survives her. Shortly after their marriage in 1989, their company, Pavilion Communications, bought a controlling interest in RKO Pictures, but they had little success in returning that studio to its former glory.
Ms. Merrill had some regrets about her late-blooming acting career, which had been forestalled because of her child-rearing responsibilities.
“You didn’t go to work then if you had young children,” she said in 1979. “But the 20s are very important years to an actress. If I had it to do over again today, I might continue working.”
An obituary on Tuesday about the actress Dina Merrill misstated the date of her birth in 1923. It was Dec. 29, not Dec. 9.
ROGER MOORE, WHO PLAYED JAMES BOND 007 TIMES
Roger Moore, the dapper British actor who brought tongue-in-cheek humor to the James Bond persona in seven films, eclipsing his television career, which had included starring roles in at least five series, died on Tuesday in Switzerland. He was 89.
The death, attributed to cancer, was confirmed in a family statement on Twitter. His family did not say where in Switzerland he had died.
Mr. Moore was the oldest Bond ever hired for films in the official series — although David Niven was in his 50s when he played Bond in the spoof “Casino Royale” — taking on the role when he was 45. (Sean Connery, who originated the film character and with whom Mr. Moore was constantly compared, was 32 when the first Bond film, “Dr. No,” was released.) Mr. Moore also had the longest run in the role, beginning in 1973 with “Live and Let Die” and winding up in 1985 with “A View to a Kill.”
When he became 007, the author Ian Fleming’s sexy secret agent with a license to kill, Mr. Moore was already well known to American audiences. After playing the title role in a British medieval-adventure series, “Ivanhoe,” shown in the United States in syndication in 1958, and starring in “The Alaskans,” a short-lived (1959-60) ABC gold-rush series, he replaced the departing James Garner in the fourth season (1960-61) of the western hit “Maverick.” His decidedly non-Western accent was explained away by the British education of his character, Beauregard Maverick, the original hero’s cousin.
From 1962 to 1969, Mr. Moore was Simon Templar, the title character of “The Saint,” a wildly popular British series about an adventurous, smooth-talking thief. It did so well in syndication in America that NBC adopted it for its prime-time schedule from 1967 to 1969. Two years later, Mr. Moore and Tony Curtis starred in ABC’s one-season series “The Persuaders” as playboy partners solving glamorous European crimes
After surrendering the Bond role to Timothy Dalton, Mr. Moore appeared in a half-dozen largely unexceptional movies, made a few television appearances and did voice work in animated films. Mostly, however, he turned his attention elsewhere, becoming a Unicef good-will ambassador in 1991. He was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1999 and was knighted in 2003.
Roger George Moore was born on Oct. 14, 1927, in Stockwell, South London, the only child of George Alfred Moore, a London police officer who dabbled in amateur theater, and the former Lily Pope. Early on, Roger expressed interest in becoming a commercial artist and worked while a teenager at an animation company. But he fell into movie extra work, was encouraged by a director to pursue acting and entered the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1944.
During his tenure as James Bond, Mr. Moore played almost a score of unrelated acting roles, most notably in “The Cannonball Run” (1981), the car-race comedy with Burt Reynolds, and the television movie “Sherlock Holmes in New York” (1976), in which he starred as Holmes and John Huston played Professor Moriarty.
In between, Andrew Lloyd Webber cast him in his 1989 musical, “Aspects of Love,” in London, but Mr. Moore dropped out a month before the opening. (He said at the time that he was unhappy with his singing voice, but he later said that he had left at Mr. Lloyd Webber’s request.)
His last film appearance was a supporting role in “The Carer” (2016), about an aging and ailing British actor (Brian Cox).
Mr. Moore married four times and was divorced three. He met his first wife (1946-53), Doorn Van Steyn, at acting school in London. He married Dorothy Squires in 1953 and left her in the early ’60s for Luisa Mattioli, whom he had met making an Italian film, but their divorce was not final until 1968. He married Ms. Mattioli the next year and had three children with her. They divorced in 1996, and in 2002 he married the Swedish-born Kristina Tholstrup, who survives him.
Mr. Moore had definite opinions about playing heroic adventurers long before he became Bond. “I would say your average hero has a super ego, an invincible attitude and an overall death wish,” he told The New York Times in 1970. “He’s slightly around the twist, isn’t he?”
“In theatrical terms, I’ve never had a part that demands much of me,” he added. “The only way I’ve had to extend myself has been to carry on charming.”
An earlier version of this obituary misspelled the given name of Mr. Moore’s wife. She is Kristina Tholstrup, not Christina.
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the ages of both Sean Connery and Mr. Moore when they first played James Bond. Mr. Connery was 32, not 33, when “Dr. No” was released; and Mr. Moore was 45, not 46, when he began filming “Live and Let Die.”