Monthly Archives: November 2017

IN REMEMBRANCE: 11-26-2017


Della Reese, left, with other cast members of “Touched by an Angel” in 2003. From left are Roma Downey, John Dye and Valerie Bertinelli. Credit CBS

Della Reese, the husky-voiced singer and actress who spent almost a decade playing a down-to-earth heavenly messenger on the CBS series “Touched by an Angel” and became an ordained minister in real life, died on Sunday night at her home in Encino, Calif. She was 86.

Her death was confirmed by her manager, Lynda Bensky. She did not specify the cause but said that Ms. Reese had diabetes.

Ms. Reese had been under contract to Jubilee Records for three years when, in 1957, she had her first big hit record, the romantic ballad “And That Reminds Me.”

Named the year’s most promising “girl singer” by Billboard, Variety and Cash Box, she was soon making regular appearances on the leading television variety shows of the day. Her biggest hit was “Don’t You Know” — adapted from “Musetta’s Waltz,” an aria from “La Bohème” — which reached No. 2 on the Billboard singles chart in 1959.

But she became best known as actress, particularly in the sentimental drama series “Touched by an Angel,” which had its premiere in 1994 and evolved into one of prime time’s top-rated shows. It placed in the Nielsen Top 10 from 1996 to 2000, with an average of more than 20 million weekly viewers at one point.

In the show, Ms. Reese, by then in her 60s, was cast as Tess, a stern but loving supervisor of angels who guided a softhearted and less experienced angel, Monica (Roma Downey), in helping humans at crossroads in their lives. The series told reassuring stories of forgiveness and second chances with mild irreverence. (“You get your little angel butt back to the city,” Tess told Monica in one episode.)

Ms. Reese contended that no career switch was involved. “Every time I sang the blues, I wasn’t blue,” she said in a 2008 interview for the Archive of American Television, alluding to her emotional connections and delivery as a vocalist. “I was already acting.”

Ms. Reese performed in concert in 2001 as part of Detroit 300, a festival celebrating the city’s 300th anniversary. As a singer, she had her first big hit record in 1957, with the romantic ballad “And That Reminds Me.” Credit Paul Warner/Associated Press

Ms. Reese’s religious faith was a major influence in her career. In 1996 she told The Chicago Tribune that she had consulted with God about whether to sign on for “Angel.” “As clearly as I hear you,” she said, “I heard him say: ‘You can do this. I want you to do this, and you can retire in 10 years.’ ”

The series lasted nine years, and she continued to act for another decade after that.

The only notable complication during the show’s run was a highly publicized salary dispute during the 1997-98 season. Ms. Reese went public with her displeasure at being offered a 12.5 percent pay increase for the new season, while Ms. Downey received a 100 percent raise.

The matter was settled the next summer with a three-year agreement that eventually increased Ms. Reese’s salary from $40,000 to $100,000 per episode (which was still less than what Ms. Downey was earning). Part of CBS’s argument against the raise was that the network had made scheduling concessions to allow Ms. Reese to fly from the set in Utah to California every weekend for church services.

S1 E 1 The Southbound Bus Video by Christopher Raffa

In the 1980s, Ms. Reese had been ordained as a minister by the Universal Foundation for Better Living and founded the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church, a nondenominational Christian ministry. She delivered Sunday sermons there for many years.

Delloreese Patricia Early was born on July 6, 1931, in Detroit. Her mother, the former Nellie Mitchelle, was a domestic worker and her father, Richard, a steelworker, but there were early signs that their daughter might occupy a completely different world.

When Delloreese was 13, Mahalia Jackson heard her sing at a Baptist church and invited the girl to join her gospel-choir tour. “I was arrogant enough to think I was helping out this old lady,” Ms. Reese recalled in a 1998 interview with The New York Times.

She entered Wayne State University with plans to become a psychiatrist, but after her mother died she had a falling-out with her father, left school, moved out of the family home and supported herself with a variety of jobs, including music.

Her big break was a one-week engagement at the Flame Show Bar in Detroit, which she won in a contest that asked newspaper readers to vote for their favorite local singer. That one week turned into months, a manager spotted her, and she soon moved to New York, where she became a vocalist with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra. Although her biggest hits came in her youth, she continued to record well into her 60s and received a Grammy Award nomination for her 1998 gospel album, “My Soul Feels Better Right Now.”

Ms. Reese with Rue McClanahan in the 2000 television movie “The Moving of Sophia Myles,” about a pastor’s widow who fights to remain in her church-owned home. In real life, she was an ordained minister with a congregation in California. Credit John Seakwood/CBS

Ms. Reese made her television acting debut as a nightclub owner on the police series “The Mod Squad” in 1968. She went on to appear in scores of television movies and series, including the 1970s sitcom “Chico and the Man,” in which she had a recurring role, and the 1991-92 series “The Royal Family,” which ended shortly after the death of her co-star Redd Foxx.

Feature films were not a major part of her career — she appeared in fewer than a dozen — but she considered her role as a 1920s madam in Eddie Murphy’s “Harlem Nights” (1989) pivotal because it proved she could play a character different from the ones she had in the past. She told The Ottawa Citizen in 1997, “For a long time, I was the woman who owned the club where the star came in after he broke up with his girlfriend.”

Ms. Reese, who sometimes filled in for Johnny Carson as guest host on “The Tonight Show,” was the first black woman to host a national television variety-talk show. The syndicated “Della” lasted only one season (1969-70), but that amounted to almost 200 episodes. Her guests included George Burns, Ike and Tina Turner, Little Richard, Steve Allen, Tony Bennett, Ethel Waters and Gypsy Rose Lee.

“The Tonight Show” was also the occasion for a brush with tragedy. In 1980, while taping a musical segment, she suffered a brain aneurysm that almost proved fatal. After multiple operations, she returned to work.

After “Touched by an Angel,” Ms. Reese continued to act occasionally in movies and on TV. Her last roles were in two holiday-themed 2013 television movies, “Dear Secret Santa” and “Miracle at Gate 213” (NBC), and two episodes of the Hallmark Channel series “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” (2014).

Ms. Reese married Vermont Taliaferro, a Michigan factory worker, in 1951. They were divorced in 1958. Her second husband, from 1959 until their divorce in 1961, was Leroy Gray, an accountant. A brief 1961 marriage to Mercer Ellington, Duke Ellington’s son, was annulled. In 1983 she married Franklin Lett, a concert producer, who survives her.

Complete information on other survivors was not immediately available. A daughter, Delloreese Daniels Owens, died in 2002.

Ms. Reese saw no conflict between her religious beliefs and the enjoyment of stardom’s perquisites. A 2003 Los Angeles Times article quoted one of her sermons: “I like to sit on soft things and sleep late,” she told her congregation, adding playfully: “I like 45 $100 bills in my pocketbook. It kind of makes me feel like a real woman.”

SOURCE: The New York Times



Pete Moore, right, and Smokey Robinson of the Miracles received stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2009. Credit Fred Prouser/Reuters

Pete Moore, an original member of the Miracles, the hitmaking Motown group led by Smokey Robinson, and a co-writer of some of its most enduring songs, died in Las Vegas on Nov. 19, his 79th birthday.

His wife, Tina, said the cause was complications of diabetes.

Mr. Moore’s credits included three melancholy Top 20 hits that were released in 1965, during an especially dynamic period for Motown and the Miracles: “Ooo Baby Baby,” written with Mr. Robinson; “The Tracks of My Tears,” with Mr. Robinson and the guitarist Marv Tarplin; and “My Girl Has Gone,” with Mr. Robinson, Mr. Tarplin and the group’s Ronnie White.

Adam White, the author, with the former Motown Records executive Barney Ales, of “Motown: The Sound of Young America” (2016), said in an email that this trilogy of Miracles songs “defines their talent and their art better than anything else.”

He added, “A measure of Pete Moore’s importance to the Miracles lies in the personal: that he and Smokey were friends from childhood; that he was in the earliest incarnations of the group — and that he was the best man at Smokey’s wedding.”

Mr. Moore brought his bass voice to a group known for its smooth harmonies, snazzy clothes and silky onstage choreography, and for the good looks and angelic high tenor, which rose effortlessly to a falsetto, of its leader, Mr. Robinson.

In the origin story of the Motown empire, the Miracles were the founder Berry Gordy Jr.’s first great ensemble, preceding the Supremes, the Four Tops and the Temptations. “Shop Around” (1960), which Mr. Gordy wrote with Mr. Robinson, was Motown’s first million-seller, rising to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart — thanks in part to the timing of its release.

In an interview in 2015 with WVUD-FM in Newark, Del., Mr. Moore said that Mr. Gordy “wasn’t aware that you didn’t release records in December.”

Pete Moore, bottom right, and the rest of the Miracles arriving in London in 1965. Credit Evening Standard/Hulton Archive, via Getty Images

“The record came out on Dec. 17,” he continued. “Everybody was shopping. When they heard ‘Shop Around’ on the radio, that’s what they were doing — buying dresses and toys for the kids — and that record exploded. Wow! Bam!”

There would be many more hits after that, including “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Mickey’s Monkey,” “Going to a Go-Go” and, following a name change to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles in 1967, “I Second That Emotion” and “The Tears of a Clown.”

Mr. Moore recalled that “The Tracks of My Tears” emerged from a guitar riff played by Mr. Tarplin that coincided with a joint desire to write a song inspired by the tragic opera “Pagliacci,” whose central character is a sad clown.

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Tracks Of My Tears Video by soulmusic87

“Why don’t we write a song about a guy who appeared to be happy on the outside but he’s always sad on the inside?” Mr. Moore said in the WVUD interview. “So we wrote it.”

The song was ranked 12th in Rolling Stone’s 1988 list of the 100 best singles of the previous 25 years. Mr. Moore said in the accompanying article, which was written by Mr. White, that “The Tracks of My Tears” appealed to audiences immediately, including those on television.

“I can recall doing shows like Dick Clark and ‘Hullabaloo,’ ” he said. “Every time we sang that song people in the audience would cry.”

The Miracles returned to the “Pagliacci” theme in 1970 with “The Tears of a Clown,” which has direct references to the opera.

Mr. Moore collaborated on hit songs with his Miracles partners for other Motown artists, including Marvin Gaye, with “Ain’t That Peculiar” and “I’ll Be Doggone.”

Warren Thomas Moore was born on Nov. 19, 1938, in Detroit. His father, Odell, was a sculptor, and his mother, Oreatha, was a teacher.

Mr. Moore was 12 when he met Mr. Robinson, and by high school they were in a group called the Five Chimes (with Mr. White, a future Miracle) that won a contest on “Saturday Dance Party,” a Detroit television show hosted by Ed McKenzie, a local disc jockey. Mr. Moore said that in that moment he could visualize his future.

“We walked with our chests out in high school,” he said an interview for “Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: The Definitive Performances 1963-1987,” a DVD released in 2006. “When that happened, I told myself, ‘This is what I want to do.’ ”

But at an audition in 1957 for Nat Tarnopol, the R&B singer Jackie Wilson’s manager, the group, now rechristened the Matadors, was told that they were not ready, Mr. Moore recalled. They were also told that with a female singer, Claudette Rogers (who would marry and subsequently divorce Mr. Robinson), they sounded too much like the Platters. He suggested that they return in a year.

Disappointed, they left. But they were stopped outside by Mr. Gordy, who had listened to the audition, was impressed and wanted to manage them. “We knew who he was,” MrMoore told WVUD. “Berry had written all of Jackie’s hits until then.”

With Mr. Gordy as their manager — and with his help in improving Mr. Robinson’s songwriting — they changed their name to the Miracles and became an integral force at Motown.

Mr. Robinson last performed with the Miracles in 1972 before leaving to pursue a solo career and focus more on his role as a vice president of Motown. Mr. Moore remained with the Miracles until they dissolved in 1978. With Billy Griffin, who replaced Mr. Robinson as lead singer, he wrote “Love Machine (Part 1),” a No. 1 Billboard hit in 1976.

In his post-Miracles career, Mr. Moore had a production company in Las Vegas and was known for nurturing the career of the hip-hop artist B. Taylor. “Thank you for discovering me, mentoring me everyday for 10 years,” Mr. Taylor wrote on Instagram.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Moore is survived by twin daughters, Monique and Monette Moore, and a sister, Winifred Moore.

While Mr. Robinson was voted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, the rest of the Miracles were not enshrined until 2012.

It was a slight that Mr. Moore recalled during an interview shortly before his induction with Mr. Tarplin, Ms. Rogers Robinson, Mr. White and Bobby Rogers.

“It was a slap in the face,” he told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. “We are the premiere group of Motown. We were there before there was a Motown. We set the pace for all the other artists to come after us.”

SOURCE: The New York Times



Manson Mythology and Pop Culture

Charles Manson was a constant dark presence in pop culture for decades after his arrest in the gruesome Tate-LaBianca murders.

By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER, ROBIN LINDSAY and JANET MASLIN on Publish Date November 20, 2017. Photo by Associated Press. Watch in Times Video » 

Charles Manson, one of the most notorious murderers of the 20th century, who was very likely the most culturally persistent and perhaps also the most inscrutable, died on Sunday in a hospital in Kern County, Calif., north of Los Angeles. He was 83 and had been behind bars for most of his life.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced his death in a news release. In accordance with federal and state privacy regulations, no cause was given; he had been hospitalized in January for intestinal bleeding but was ruled too frail to undergo surgery.

Mr. Manson was a semiliterate habitual criminal and failed musician before he came to irrevocable attention in the late 1960s as the wild-eyed leader of the Manson family, a murderous band of young drifters in California. Convicted of nine murders in all, he was known in particular for the seven brutal killings collectively called the Tate-LaBianca murders, committed by his followers on two consecutive August nights in 1969.


From The Archive | Dec. 7, 1969
Nomadic Guru Flirted With Crime in a Turbulent Childhood

Charles Manson was born into loneliness with a mother who did not want him. His long police record began in his adolescent years.

The New York Times

See full article in TimesMachine

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The most famous of the victims was Sharon Tate, an actress who was married to the film director Roman Polanski. Eight and a half months pregnant, she was killed with four other people at her home in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles, near Beverly Hills.

The Tate-LaBianca killings and the seven-month trial that followed were the subjects of fevered news coverage. To a frightened, mesmerized public, the murders, with their undercurrents of sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and Satanism, seemed the depraved logical extension of the anti-establishment, do-your-own-thing ethos that helped define the ’60s.

Since then, the Manson family has occupied a dark, persistent place in American culture — and American commerce. It has inspired, among other things, pop songs, an opera, films, a host of internet fan sites, T-shirts, children’s wear and half the stage name of the rock musician Marilyn Manson.

It has also been the subject of many nonfiction books, most famously “Helter Skelter” (1974), by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. Mr. Bugliosi was the lead prosecutor at the Tate-LaBianca trial.

Ms. Tate and the film director Roman Polanski at their wedding. Credit Keystone/Getty Images

The Manson family came to renewed attention in 2008, when officials in California, responding to long speculation that there were victims still unaccounted for, searched a stretch of desert in Death Valley. There, in a derelict place known as the Barker Ranch, Mr. Manson and his followers had lived for a time in the late ’60s. The search turned up no human remains.

It was a measure of Mr. Manson’s hold over his followers, mostly young women who had fled middle-class homes, that he was not physically present at the precise moment that any one of the Tate-LaBianca victims was killed. Yet his family swiftly murdered them on his orders, which, according to many later accounts, were meant to incite an apocalyptic race war that Mr. Manson called Helter Skelter. He took the name from the title of a Beatles song.

Throughout the decades since, Mr. Manson has remained an enigma. Was he a paranoid schizophrenic, as some observers have suggested? Was he a sociopath, devoid of human feeling? Was he a charismatic guru, as his followers once believed and his fans seemingly still do?

Or was he simply flotsam, a man whose life, The New York Times wrote in 1970, “stands as a monument to parental neglect and the failure of the public correctional system”?

The body of Ms. Tate being removed from the rented home where she was murdered. Credit Associated Press

No Name Maddox, as Mr. Manson was officially first known, was born on Nov. 12, 1934, to a 16-year-old unwed mother in Cincinnati. (Many accounts give the date erroneously as Nov. 11.) His mother, Kathleen Maddox, was often described as having been a prostitute. What is certain, according to Mr. Bugliosi’s book and other accounts, is that she was a heavy drinker who lived on the margins of society with a series of men.

Mr. Manson apparently never knew his biological father. His mother briefly married another man, William Manson, and gave her young son the name Charles Milles Manson.

Kathleen often disappeared for long periods — when Charles was 5, for instance, she was sent to prison for robbing a gas station — leaving him to bounce among relatives in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. She was paroled when Charles was 8 and took him back, but kept him for only a few years.

Burglary, Robbery, Rape

From the age of 12 on, Charles was placed in a string of reform schools. At one institution, he held a razor to a boy’s throat and raped him.

The Spahn Movie Ranch. Credit Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

Escaping often, he committed burglaries, auto thefts and armed robberies, landing in between in juvenile detention centers and eventually federal reformatories. He was paroled from the last one at 19, in May 1954.

Starting in the mid-1950s, Mr. Manson, living mostly in Southern California, was variously a busboy, parking-lot attendant, car thief, check forger and pimp. During this period, he was in and out of prison.

He was married twice: in 1955 to Rosalie Jean Willis, a teenage waitress, and a few years later to a young prostitute named Leona. Both marriages ended in divorce.

Mr. Manson was believed to have fathered at least two children over the years: at least one with one of his wives, and at least one more with one of his followers. The precise number, names and whereabouts of his children — a subject around which rumor and urban legend have long coalesced — could not be confirmed.

Mr. Manson in court with Susan Atkins, seated, in October 1970. Credit Associated Press

By March 1967, when Mr. Manson, then 32, was paroled from his latest prison stay, he had spent more than half his life in correctional facilities. On his release, he moved to the Bay Area and eventually settled in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, the nerve center of hippiedom, just in time for the Summer of Love.

There, espousing a philosophy that was an idiosyncratic mix of Scientology, hippie anti-authoritarianism, Beatles lyrics, the Book of Revelation and the writings of Hitler, he began to draw into his orbit the rootless young adherents who would become known as the Manson family.

Mr. Manson had learned to play the guitar in prison and hoped to make it as a singer-songwriter. His voice was once compared to that of the young Frankie Laine, a crooner who first became popular in the 1940s.

Mr. Manson’s lyrics, by contrast, were often about sex and death, but in the ’60s, that did not stand out very much. (Songs he wrote were later recorded by Guns N’ Roses and Marilyn Manson.) Once he was famous, Mr. Manson himself released several albums, including “LIE,” issued in 1970, and “Live at San Quentin,” issued in 2006.

Mr. Manson in 1980. He learned to play the guitar in prison and hoped to make it as a singer-songwriter. Credit Mirrorpix, via Alamy

With his followers — a loose, shifting band of a dozen or more — Mr. Manson left San Francisco for Los Angeles. They stayed awhile in the home of Dennis Wilson, the Beach Boys’ drummer. Mr. Manson hoped the association would help him land a recording contract, but none materialized. (The Beach Boys did later record a song, “Never Learn Not to Love,” that was based on one written by Mr. Manson, although Mr. Wilson, who sang it, gave it new lyrics and a new title — Mr. Manson had called it “Cease to Exist” — and took credit for writing it.)

The Manson family next moved to the Spahn Movie Ranch, a mock Old West town north of Los Angeles that was once a film set but had since fallen to ruins. The group later moved to Death Valley, eventually settling at the Barker Ranch.

The desert location would protect the family, Mr. Manson apparently thought, in the clash of the races that he believed was inevitable. He openly professed his hatred of black people, and he believed that when Helter Skelter came, blacks would annihilate whites. Then, unable to govern themselves, the blacks would turn for leadership to the Manson family, who would have ridden out the conflict in deep underground holes in the desert.

A Frenzy of Bloodshed

At some point, Mr. Manson seems to have decided to help Helter Skelter along. Late at night on Aug. 8, 1969, he dispatched four family members — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles Watson and Linda Kasabian — to the Tate home in the Hollywood hills. Mr. Manson knew the house: Terry Melcher, a well-known record producer with whom he had dealt fruitlessly, had once lived there.

On Jan. 25, 1971, the jury found Mr. Manson, Patricia Krenwinkel, left, and Susan Atkins, center, guilty of seven counts of murder each. Leslie Van Houten, right, was found guilty of two counts. Credit Associated Press

Shortly after midnight on Aug. 9, Ms. Atkins, Ms. Krenwinkel and Mr. Watson entered the house while Ms. Kasabian waited outside. Through a frenzied combination of shooting, stabbing, beating and hanging, they murdered Ms. Tate and four others in the house and on the grounds: Jay Sebring, a Hollywood hairdresser; Abigail Folger, an heiress to the Folger coffee fortune; Voytek (also spelled Wojciech) Frykowski, Ms. Folger’s boyfriend; and Steven Parent, an 18-year-old visitor. Ms. Tate’s husband, Mr. Polanski, was in London at the time.

Before leaving, Ms. Atkins scrawled the word “pig” in blood on the front door of the house; in Mr. Manson’s peculiar logic, the killings were supposed to look like the work of black militants.

The next night, Aug. 10, Mr. Manson and a half-dozen followers drove to a Los Angeles house he appeared to have selected at random. Inside, Mr. Manson tied up the residents — a wealthy grocer named Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary — before leaving. After he was gone, several family members stabbed the couple to death. The phrases “Death to Pigs” and “Healter Skelter,” misspelled, were scrawled in blood at the scene.

The seven murders went unsolved for months. Then, in the autumn of 1969, the police closed in on the Manson family after Ms. Atkins, in jail on an unrelated murder charge, bragged to cellmates about the killings.

Charles Manson being taken to jail months after the brutal killings of seven people in Los Angeles in 1969. Credit Bettmann

On June 15, 1970, Mr. Manson, Ms. Atkins, Ms. Krenwinkel and a fourth family member, Leslie Van Houten, went on trial for murder. Ms. Kasabian, who had been present on both nights but said she had not participated in the killings, became the prosecution’s star witness and was given immunity. Mr. Watson, who had fled to Texas, was tried and convicted separately.

During the trial, the bizarre became routine. On one occasion, Mr. Manson lunged at the judge with a pencil. On another, he punched his lawyer in open court. At one point, Mr. Manson appeared in court with an “X” carved into his forehead; his co-defendants quickly followed suit. (Mr. Manson later carved the X into a swastika, which remained flagrantly visible ever after.)

Outside the courthouse, a small flock of chanting family members kept vigil. One of them, Lynette Fromme, nicknamed Squeaky, would make headlines herself in 1975 when she tried to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford.

On Jan. 25, 1971, after nine days’ deliberation, the jury found Mr. Manson, Ms. Atkins and Ms. Krenwinkel guilty of seven counts of murder each. Ms. Van Houten, who had been present only at the LaBianca murders, was found guilty of two counts. All four were also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.

Mr. Manson at a parole hearing in 2008. He was turned down for parole a dozen times, most recently in 2012. Credit Associated Press

On March 29, the jury voted to give all four defendants the death penalty. In 1972, after capital punishment was temporarily outlawed in California, their sentences were reduced to life in prison.

Mr. Manson was convicted separately of two other murders: those of Gary Hinman, a musician killed by Manson family members in late July 1969, and Donald Shea, a Barker Ranch stuntman killed late that August. Altogether, Mr. Manson and seven family members were eventually convicted of one to nine murders apiece.

Incarcerated in a series of prisons over the years, Mr. Manson passed the time by playing the guitar, doing menial chores and making scorpions and spiders out of thread from his socks. His notoriety made him a target: In 1984, he was treated for second- and third-degree burns after being doused with paint thinner by a fellow inmate and set ablaze.

Mr. Manson was turned down for parole a dozen times, most recently in 2012. Most of the other convicted family members remain in prison. Ms. Atkins died in prison in 2009, at 61, of natural causes.

Mr. Manson in a 2011 California Department of Corrections photo. To the end of his life, he denied having ordered the Tate-LaBianca murders. Nor, as he replied to a question he was often asked, did he feel remorse. Credit California Department of Corrections, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Manson family was an inspiration for the television series “Aquarius,” broadcast on NBC in 2015 and 2016. A period drama set in the late ’60s, it starred David Duchovny as a Los Angeles police detective who comes up against Mr. Manson (played by the British actor Gethin Anthony) in the course of investigating a teenage girl’s disappearance.

To the end of his life, Mr. Manson denied having ordered the Tate-LaBianca murders. Nor, as he replied to a question he was often asked, did he feel remorse, in any case.

He said as much in 1986 in a prison interview with the television journalist Charlie Rose.

“So you didn’t care?” Mr. Rose asked, invoking Ms. Tate and her unborn child.

“Care?” Mr. Manson replied.

He added, “What the hell does that mean, ‘care’?”

Correction: November 20, 2017
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this obituary misstated the location of the house where Sharon Tate and four other people were killed by followers of Mr. Manson. It was in Los Angeles, not Beverly Hills.
SOURCE: The New York Times**************************************************


David Cassidy in Paris in 1974. Credit Ellidge/Getty Images

David Cassidy, the actor, singer and teen heartthrob best known as the band member with the green eyes and the feathered haircut on “The Partridge Family,” the 1970s television show about a family band, died on Tuesday in a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 67.

His publicist, Jo-Ann Geffen, said the cause was liver failure. Mr. Cassidy, who lived in Fort Lauderdale, had recently been admitted to the hospital in critical condition.

Mr. Cassidy rose to fame on “The Partridge Family” playing Keith Partridge, the eldest of five children in a family that forms a band and goes on tour in a multicolored bus. His character, a high school student, was swooned over by young women as he learned to navigate his newfound fame.

It was 1970, with the turbulent late 1960s of the Vietnam War, race riots, psychedelia, Woodstock and Altamont barely past, when Mr. Cassidy got the lead role on the show. “The Partridge Family” was produced by Screen Gems, which had also been the company behind “The Monkees,” another sitcom about a pop band, which had its own heartthrob in Davy Jones.

Mr. Cassidy had a face youthful enough to portray a teenager, a shy smile and friendly eyes, and he could sing well enough to portray Keith Partridge without having to lip-sync someone else’s voice.

Even in the FM-radio heyday of Black Sabbath, the Allman Brothers and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, there was a place for a well-groomed, unthreatening young pop singer. Mr. Cassidy became one of the teen idols of the early 1970s, arriving between Bobby Sherman and Donny Osmond and decades before Justin Timberlake or Charlie Puth. He was marketed through Top 40 radio and fan magazines as a wholesome fantasy figure for girls.

Soon after “The Partridge Family” began, he had a No. 1 hit, “I Think I Love You,” credited (as many of his hits were) to the Partridge Family.

A scene from the 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family.” Shown from left: Shirley Jones, Suzanne Crough, David Cassidy, Brian Forster, Danny Bonaduce and Susan Dey. Credit ABC, via Photofest

“The Partridge Family” lasted from 1970 to 1974, a respectable run for a show featuring a teenage idol. In 1972, in what he recalled as a career peak, Mr. Cassidy headlined Madison Square Garden, wearing the kind of white jumpsuit Elvis Presley also favored in the 1970s. By then, he was already weary of incessant career demands and squealing mobs.

“Oh, they’re cute — they get flustered and I get flustered, and it’s all kind of fun,” Mr. Cassidy said of his fans in 1972, when he was 21. “But it’s no fun when they rip your clothes and take rooms next door in hotels and keep pounding on the door and slipping notes under it.”

In an attempt to spice up his squeaky-clean image, Mr. Cassidy posed nude in a photo shoot for the cover of Rolling Stone in 1972. In the article, he said he was already dreaming about the end of his acting career.

“I’ll feel really good when it’s over,” he said. “I have an image of myself in five years. I’m living on an island. The sky is blue, the sun is shining. And I’m smiling, I’m healthy, I’m a family man.”

Mr. Cassidy was nominated for a Grammy Award for best new artist in 1970, and his 1972 solo album, “Cherish,” went gold. The Partridge Family had six albums achieve that certification from 1970 to 1972.

I THINK I LOVE YOU ~ The Partridge Family Video by Z1DO4U

According to an online biography of the Partridge Family by Ed Hogan, Mr. Cassidy and his co-star and real-life stepmother, the Academy Award-winning actress Shirley Jones, were the only cast members on the television show heard on the group’s records — Mr. Cassidy as a lead vocalist and Ms. Jones on background vocals.

He was among the early pop talents to come to notice through television. Reviewing the 1972 concert at Madison Square Garden, held on a Saturday afternoon, Don Heckman wrote in The New York Times that the show “was less a musical event than a love feast, less a concert than a symbolic announcement of what pop music might become.”

“The focus of it all,” he added, “was David Cassidy, singer and star of television’s ‘The Partridge Family’ and the current idol of almost every 13‐year‐old girl in America.”

David Cassidy in performance in Miami in 2012. Credit MediaPunch/Rex Features, via Associated Press Images

Referring to the fans in the audience, Mr. Heckman added, “I suspect that their affection had more to say about the manipulative powers of television and recordings than it did about David Cassidy.”

After “The Partridge Family” ended, Mr. Cassidy pursued an on-and-off acting and music career. Like Presley, he eventually had his own stints in Las Vegas, notably a mid-1990s arena spectacle titled “EFX.” He never equaled his early popularity, but he stayed in show business to the end.

In later years, he wrote books about the toll that stardom had taken on him, and about his struggles with substance abuse. He revealed this year that he had dementia.

After watching his mother struggle with dementia, he worked with organizations to educate others about Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr. Cassidy was born on April 12, 1950, in New York City to the actors Jack Cassidy and Evelyn Ward. (Jack Cassidy, who later married Shirley Jones, died at 49 in 1976 in a fire at his Los Angeles apartment. Ms. Ward died at 89 in 2012.)

He grew up in West Orange, N.J., and moved to California when he was still a boy. He struggled in school but began taking small parts in plays and on television, eventually leading to his big break on “The Partridge Family.” 

He was later seen on several other television series. A 1978 appearance on “Police Story” earned him an Emmy Award nomination, and he had his own short-lived crime show, “David Cassidy — Man Undercover,” in the 1978-79 season. In 2011 he was fired by Donald J. Trump on “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

Mr. Cassidy was married and divorced three times. He is survived by his son, Beau, a musician; his daughter, Katie, an actress; Ms. Jones, his stepmother; and three half brothers: Shaun (who had his own moment as a teen heartthrob in the late 1970s), Patrick and Ryan.

Correction: November 21, 2017
An earlier version of this obituary misspelled the given name of one of Mr. Cassidy’s half brothers. He is Shaun Cassidy, not Sean.
Correction: November 21, 2017
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the surname of Mr. Cassidy’s mother. She was Evelyn Ward, not Wood.
Correction: November 22, 2017
A picture caption with an earlier version of this obituary, using information from Getty Images, misstated the location of the photo of Mr. Cassidy holding an umbrella. It was Paris, not London.
Correction: November 24, 2017
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this obituary misstated the year Mr. Cassidy’s mother, Evelyn Ward, died. It was 2012, not 2013. Because of another editing error, the earlier version misstated the year Mr. Cassidy appeared on the television show “The Celebrity Apprentice.” It was 2011, not 2001.

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Meet ʻOumuamua, the Interstellar Cigar

Sky & Telescope
Rapid-response observations by major observatories shows that the first-known interstellar visitor is 10 times longer than it is wide. Read more…

NASA Joins Japanese Mission to Martian Moons

Sky & Telescope
NASA is developing a key instrument for a daring mission to the Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, including a sample return from Phobos. Read more…


This Week’s Sky at a Glance, November 24 – December 2

Sky & Telescope
Learn what’s in the sky for the week of November 24 – December 2. This week’s full Moon is the closest of the year. Read more…

Invite Ross 128 Over This Thanksgiving

Sky & Telescope
With exoplanet Ross 128b in the news, we pay a visit to the star that sustains this potentially habitable exoplanet. Read more…

Tour November’s Sky: Predawn Planets

Sky & Telescope
As you’ll hear in this month’s astronomy podcast, Venus and Jupiter are putting on quite a show low in the east before dawn. Read more…

Gifts for the Astronomer: Top Editors’ Picks

Sky & Telescope
Searching for that perfect astronomy-themed gift for a friend or loved one? Look no further, we’ve got you covered, with globes, atlases, calendars, and much more! Read more…

Simple Formulas for the Telescope Owner

Sky & Telescope
How to calculate what you need to know about your telescopes, oculars, and binoculars. Read more…

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Hatewatch Headlines 11/22/2017

Hate crimes spike brings calls for hearings; Facebook still allows ad discrimination; Trump sells out alt-right on net neutrality; and more.


Politico: Democrats demand hearing after latest FBI hate crimes statistics show an uptick.

ProPublica: Faceboook (still) letting housing advertisers exclude users by race.

Raw Story: Trump’s move to kill net neutrality sells out the alt-right in favor of big business.

Independent (UK): United States one of only three countries to vote against UN resolution condemning Nazism.

Associated Press: Judge permanently blocks Trump’s executive order to cut funding for sanctuary cities.

Reveal News: Federal agency refers teenage girls to counselors picked by anti-abortion group.

Media Matters: Anti-LGBT hate group kicked off its conference with an amazing interpretive rainbow flag dance.

Washington Post: Richard Spencer event on Maryland farm is cut short when everyone is asked to leave.

Forward: Alt-right finds common ground with Nation of Islam over racial separation.

Right-Wing Watch: Far-right activists party with Bannon, Gorka, congressmen and ‘Election Integrity’ commissioner.

Jacksonville Business Journals (FL): A Nazi, a Klan member and a Confederate sympathizer confront protesters at UNF campus.

Salon: Anti-LGBT county clerk Kim Davis may face man she refused a marriage license as opponent.

The Maui News (HI): Man spewing ‘hateful things’ leads anti-LGBT protest outside church as it installs gay pastor.

Los Angeles Times: Anti-sharia demonstrators face off with antifascists at site of San Bernardino terror attack.

Detroit Free Press: Two men charged in robbery, shooting of transgender woman in Detroit.

Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, TX): Aryan Circle members, associates in North Texas indicted on federal drug offenses.

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International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an occasion for governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to raise public awareness of violence against women. It has been observed on November 25 each year since 2000.

Violence against women is an issue that UN and many others take seriously.

What Do People Do?

Various activities are arranged around the world to draw attention to the need for continuing action to eliminate violence against women, projects to enable women and their children to escape violence and campaigns to educate people about the consequences of violence against women. Locally, women’s groups may organize rallies, communal meals, fundraising activities and present research on violence against women in their own communities.

An ongoing campaign that people are encouraged to participate in, especially around this time of the year when awareness levels for the day are high, is the “Say NO to Violence Against Women campaign”. Through the campaign, anyone can add their name to a growing movement of people who speak out to put a halt to human rights violations against women.

Public Life

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is a global observance and not a public holiday.


On November 25, 1960, three sisters, Patria Mercedes Mirabal, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal, were assassinated in the Dominican Republic on the orders of the Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo. The Mirabel sisters fought hard to end Trujillo’s dictatorship. Activists on women’s rights have observed a day against violence on the anniversary of the deaths of these three women since 1981.

On December 17, 1999, November 25 was designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by the UN General Assembly. Each year observances around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women concentrate on a particular theme, such as “Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles” (2008).


Events around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women are coordinated by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The logo of this organization consists of “UNIFEM”. The letters “U” and “N” are in blue and the letters “I”, “F”, “E” and “M” are in a darker shade of this color. An image of a dove surrounded by olive branches is to the right of the word. The image of the dove incorporates the international symbol for “woman” or “women”. This is based on the symbol for the planet Venus and consists of a ring on top of a “plus” sign.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type
Thu Nov 25 2010 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Fri Nov 25 2011 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Sun Nov 25 2012 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Mon Nov 25 2013 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Tue Nov 25 2014 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Wed Nov 25 2015 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Fri Nov 25 2016 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Sat Nov 25 2017 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Sun Nov 25 2018 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Mon Nov 25 2019 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Wed Nov 25 2020 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance

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Africa Industrialization Day

Africa Industrialization Day is celebrated on November 20 each year. It is a time when governments and other organizations in many African countries examine ways to stimulate Africa’s industrialization process. It is also an occasion to draw worldwide media attention to the problems and challenges of industrialization in Africa.

Africa Industrialization Day themes have focused on business and technology in previous times.
© jacobs

What Do People Do?

Various events are held to mark Africa Industrialization Day. Many of these involve local and national leaders and representatives of national and international non-governmental organizations. A special effort is made to unite leaders or representatives of as many African countries as possible to stimulate discussion on the industrialization of Africa and assess the progress made in the past year. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) plays an important role in coordinating events on or around Africa Industrialization Day.

In addition, statements are delivered at UNIDO’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria. These statements are from leaders from the African Union, the Economic Commission for Africa, and the UN. It is hoped that these parties will raise global consciousness of the importance of industrialization in Africa and remind the international community that more than 30 of the world’s 50 least developed countries are located in Africa

Public Life

Africa Industrialization Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.


The 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 1989. During this session, November 20 was declared to be Africa Industrialization Day. On December 22, 1989, the UN General Assembly also proclaimed this date to be Africa Industrialization Day. It was first observed on November 20, 1990.

Each year events around Africa Industrialization Day concentrate on a particular theme. In the past the themes have been: “New information and communication technologies” (2002); “Acceleration of Africa’s integration in the global economy through effective industrialization and market access” (2003); “Strengthening productive capacity for poverty reduction within the framework of NEPAD” (2004); “Generating African competitiveness for sustainable market access” (2005); “Reducing poverty through sustainable industrial development” (2006); “Technology and innovation for industry: investing in people is investing in the future” (2007); and “Business through technology” (2008).


A common symbol of Africa Industrialization Day is a geographical representation of the continent, including the island of Madagascar. Flags of international organizations in Africa, such as the African Union, or a selection of national flags may also be displayed.

Africa Industrialization Day Observances


Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type
Sat Nov 20 2010 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance
Sun Nov 20 2011 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance
Tue Nov 20 2012 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance
Wed Nov 20 2013 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance
Thu Nov 20 2014 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance
Fri Nov 20 2015 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance
Sun Nov 20 2016 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance
Mon Nov 20 2017 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance
Tue Nov 20 2018 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance
Wed Nov 20 2019 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance
Fri Nov 20 2020 Africa Industrialization Day United Nations observance

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Universal Children’s Day

The United Nations’ (UN) Universal Children’s Day, which was established in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, promotes and coordinates this special day, which also works towards improving children’s welfare.

Universal Children’s Day promotes the welfare of and understanding between children.

What Do People Do?

Many schools and other educational institutions make a special effort to inform children of their rights according to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Teachers stimulate their pupils to think about the differences between themselves and others and explain the idea of “rights”. In countries where the rights of children are generally well-respected, teachers may draw attention to situations in countries where this is not the case.

In some areas UNICEF holds events to draw particular attention to children’s rights. These may be to stimulate interest in the media around the world or to start nationwide campaigns, for instance on the importance of immunizations or breastfeeding.

Many countries, including Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, hold Universal Children’s Day events on November 20 to mark the anniversaries of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, other countries hold events on different dates, such as the fourth Wednesday in October (Australia) and November 14 (India). Universal Children’s Day is not observed in the United States, although a similar observance, National Child’s Day, is held on the first Sunday in June.

Public Life

Universal Children’s Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.


On December 14, 1954, the UN General Assembly recommended that all countries should introduce an annual event from 1956 known as Universal Children’s Day to encourage fraternity and understanding between children all over the world and promoting the welfare of children. It was recommended that individual countries should choose an appropriate date for this occasion.

At the time, the UN General Assembly recommended that all countries should establish a Children’s Day on an “appropriate” date. Many of the countries respected this recommendation and the Universal Children’s Day has since been annually observed on November 20. There are however, some countries, such as Australia and India, which still chose various different dates during the year to celebrate this day.

On November 20, 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and on November 20, 1989, it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1990, Universal Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children’s rights.


Universal Children’s Day is part of the work carried out by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. UNICEF’s logo consists of an image of a mother and child, a globe, olive branches and the word “UNICEF”. All parts of the logo are in UN’s blue color, although it may be presented in white on a blue background.

Universal Children’s Day Observances


Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type
Sat Nov 20 2010 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance
Sun Nov 20 2011 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance
Tue Nov 20 2012 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance
Wed Nov 20 2013 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance
Thu Nov 20 2014 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance
Fri Nov 20 2015 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance
Sun Nov 20 2016 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance
Mon Nov 20 2017 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance
Tue Nov 20 2018 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance
Wed Nov 20 2019 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance
Fri Nov 20 2020 Universal Children’s Day United Nations observance

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In remembrance of all the innocent and defenseless Black Americans who lost their lives at the hands of sadistic, nasty, vicious, perverse, brutish, and monstrous White humans who gave not a damn about the sanctity of so many, many lives taken, I give to you, United States of America, the following thoughts for November 23, 2017.

So, when you sit down at your tables, remember all the abominations committed against Black Americans in the name of white power, white purity, white possessiveness, white racism, white inhumanity, and non-stop white terrorism.

Remember all the atrocities committed by the illegal aliens from Europe……….the undocumented invaders to this hemisphere……..

that Black people have suffered under for centuries.

Ever since Europeans crawled out of Lascaux, they have been a disease, a blight, a never-ending curse upon the lives and sanctity of Black people.

Lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas, May 16, 1916.

When you pick up that turkey leg, or stab a knife into the turkey breast, remember all the lynching picnics and barbecues held by throngs of thousands, while Black women, Black men, and little Black children were burned, tortured, and torn apart, their body parts sold as souvenirs, by soulless, dead on the inside things that looked like humans—but were not.

Lynching of Laura Nelson and her 14-year-old son, L.D. Nelson, May 25, 1911, Okemah, Oklahoma.

Laura Nelson.

L.D. Nelson.

When you fill your mouth full of dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, salads and desserts, remember the entire all-Black towns that were burned to the ground; all the Black people destroyed because of some filthy lie that a White woman vomited out of her mouth. The Rosewoods. The Greenwoods. The Slocums.

As you cram down your throat pumpkin pie with all the trimmings, remember the coup d’états known as Wilmington, North Carolina and Colfax, Louisiana.

Yeah, that’s right.

Coup d’états.

Bet you did not know that.

As you sit back to watch football games, pause to remember all the racial pogroms.


Leave or die.

All the Black people whose hard-won homes, land, and other properties, that were stolen by some of the biggest and most venomous thieves the world has ever known.

Forsyth County, Georgia.

Harrison (Boone County), Arkansas.

Just to name a few.

As you sit around reminiscing about the good-ol’-days, take time to remember that what constitutes the good-ol’-days for you never, ever, were good-ol’-days for millions of Black people—and still are not.

When you push away from the table, stuffed, almost unable to move, realize that by remaining silent about the present atrocities that Black women, men, and children suffer through in this so-called land of the free, so-called land of the brave, makes you just as guilty (and more so) as those who raped, murdered, burned, castrated and enslaved so many Black people.

Just as guilty as the race soldiers, who shot down unarmed Black women, men and children. Just because they have a badge and a gun to be the paddyrollers of the 21ST Century.

The racist-can’t-wait-to shoot-to-death criminal citizens who have murdered Black women and girls.

Remember Eleanor Bumpers.

Sandra Bland.

Deborah Pearl.

So, while you chew on all of the aforementioned, remember that The Great Whore of Babylon has much to answer for.

And not very much to be thankful for.

Just remember, that it was Black people you came after the most and in the most vicious of ways.

Everything that has been done to Black people, you have done to yourselves.

You have sown the seeds, the harvest will come in due time.


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IN REMEMBRANCE: 11-19-2017


Earle Hyman before his induction into the Theater Hall of Fame in 1997. 

Credit Ron Frehm/Associated Press

Earle Hyman, who broke racial stereotypes on Broadway and in Scandinavia in works by Shakespeare and Ibsen but was better known to millions of Americans as Bill Cosby’s father on “The Cosby Show,” died on Friday in Englewood, N.J. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by Jordan Strohl, a representative for The Actors Fund.

Like many actors who love the stage, Mr. Hyman paid the bills with television work — soap operas and police dramas, “Hallmark Hall of Fame” and “The United States Steel Hour,” and made-for-TV movies. Most memorably, he played Russell Huxtable, the father of Dr. Cliff Huxtable, in 40 episodes of Mr. Cosby’s hugely popular NBC situation comedy about an upper-middle-class black family, broadcast from 1984 to 1992.

Although he was only 11 years older than Mr. Cosby, Mr. Hyman was an authoritative father figure, sometimes reciting Shakespeare at length — in scenes especially tailored to Mr. Hyman’s classical talents — when sage advice was required for his son.

But in a stage career that bridged oceans, languages and racial sensibilities, he also played the traditionally white roles of Hamlet, Macbeth and Lear in New York and London and the black roles of Othello, Eugene O’Neill’s Emperor Jones and the chauffeur in Alfred Uhry’s “Driving Miss Daisy” in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. There he electrified audiences and critics performing in their native languages, albeit with an American accent.

He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in New York in 1997.

Mr. Hyman appeared on and off Broadway in a score of productions over six decades, a lifetime of Beckett, O’Neill, Pinter, Albee and lesser lights as well as Shakespeare and Ibsen. And for nearly as long, he worked part of each year on the stages of Norway, where he had homes in Oslo and the fjord country, refuges from what he called the pressures, pleasures and racial barriers of New York.

“It used to be that casting black actors in traditionally white roles seemed daring, like marching in the street, and maybe things have gotten better and maybe they haven’t,” Mr. Hyman told The New York Times in 1991. “But just the fact that people still ask that question — should we or shouldn’t we? — proves that things have not come a long way.

“In Norway, where I have performed for three decades, I have played a Norwegian archbishop and no one has raised a question,” he added. “Here I am almost 65 years old and I’m still saying that all roles should be available to all actors of talent, regardless of race. Why should I be deprived of seeing a great black actress play Hedda Gabler?”

With young contemporaries like James Earl Jones, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and Morgan Freeman, Mr. Hyman was a major influence in developing black theater in America. He appeared in black-cast productions on Broadway and in regional theaters and was a founder of the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Conn., which began in 1955 and often cast black actors in customarily white leading roles.

Skirting racial barriers that had long limited the opportunities for black actors in America, Mr. Hyman lived and worked in England for five years and spent parts of each year in Scandinavia, mostly in Norway, for more than a half century. He became fluent in Norwegian and Danish, spoke passable Swedish, and performed in Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm in plays by Shakespeare, Ibsen and O’Neill.

After his debut at the National Theater in Bergen in “Othello” in 1963, Mr. Hyman, the first American to perform for Norwegians in their own language, was hailed by Norwegian critics, inundated with offers to stay on and besieged by fans from across a land of reserved people rarely given to emotional displays. After 50 consecutive sellouts, he was also drawing international attention.

“Even speaking Norwegian with an American accent has not diminished Mr. Hyman’s achievement for Norway’s critics and its theatrically sophisticated audiences,” a correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor wrote. “Along with the eloquence, dignity and towering emotional force of his characterization, the clarity of Mr. Hyman’s diction has won him admiration.”

George Earle Hyman was born in Rocky Mount, N.C., on Oct. 11, 1926, one of four children of Zachariah and Maria Plummer Hyman, who were both teachers. The family moved to Brooklyn when he was a boy. He graduated with honors from Franklin K. Lane High School, where he studied French and Latin.

Captivated by a production of Ibsen’s “Ghosts” that he saw in Brighton Beach, he resolved to be an actor. He devoured plays by Ibsen and Shakespeare, memorized parts easily and at 16 performed on Broadway in “Run, Little Chillun.”

His first Broadway hit, in 1944, was “Anna Lucasta,” Philip Yordan’s play about a Polish family, turned into a story about blacks, with an American Negro Theater cast that also included Alice Childress, Hilda Simms and Canada Lee. It ran 957 performances and was one of Broadway’s longest-running nonmusical plays at the time. After it closed in 1946, Mr. Hyman toured with the company in America and Europe.

Finding little work on Broadway in the early ’50s, he moved to London and over several years performed 13 roles in 10 Shakespeare plays, including the lead in a televised “Hamlet.” He played Othello in 1957 with the American Shakespeare Festival in Connecticut, and that year visited Norway for the first time. He was enthralled by a nation with an almost colorblind perspective on race.

“The first time I stepped on that soil I fell in love with it,” Mr. Hyman told The Associated Press in 1988. “I felt I’d been there before.”

Mr. Hyman, who never married, lived at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood. He leaves no immediate survivors.

He appeared in a number of made-for-television films and movies, including “Macbeth” (1968), “Julius Caesar” (1979) and “Coriolanus” (1979). He also provided voices for numerous episodes of the 1980s animated TV series “ThunderCats.”

He was nominated for a Tony for his 1980 Broadway role in Edward Albee’s “The Lady From Dubuque,” and for an Emmy in 1986 for his “Cosby Show” work. He won a CableACE Award in 1983 for best actor in a drama for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”; an Outstanding Pioneer Award in 1980 from the Audience Development Committee, which recognized achievements by black theater artists; and the Medal of St. Olav from the King of Norway in 1988 for his work there.

SOURCE: The New York Times





Mel Tillis at his theater in Branson, Mo., in 1998. Credit Mel Tillis Theater

Mel Tillis, whose career as a country singer and the writer of enduring hit songs like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” earned him a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame and a National Medal of Arts — but who was equally well known for the stutter he employed to humorous and self-deprecating effect onstage — died on Sunday in Ocala, Fla. He was 85.

Mr. Tillis “battled intestinal issues since early 2016 and never fully recovered,” his publicist, Don Murry Grubbs, said in a statement. The suspected cause of death was respiratory failure, he said.

Mr. Tillis found a way to turn his speech impediment into an asset by using his ready smile and innate comedic timing to get his audiences to laugh along with him. He stuttered his way to regular appearances on television talk shows and to clowning bit parts in Hollywood movies.

He even went so far as to make the nickname Stutterin’ Boy, conferred upon him by the singer Webb Pierce, the title of his autobiography (written with Walter Wager and published in 1984), and to have it painted on the side of his tour bus. He also named his personal airplane Stutter One and referred to his female backup singers as the Stutterettes.

Mr. Tillis stuttered only when he spoke, not when he sang. His resonant baritone was suited to both traditional country and pop-leaning material and was the vehicle for upward of 70 Top 40 country hits. His stutter might not have figured so prominently in his career had he focused exclusively on songwriting, or had the country entertainer Minnie Pearl, for whom he played rhythm guitar in the 1950s, not asked him to perform some of his songs in her show.

Mr. Tillis was named entertainer of the year by the Country Music Association in 1976. 

Credit Associated Press

“She’d get me off to one side and say, ‘Melvin, you’re gonna at least have to announce your songs, and then thank the folks,’” Mr. Tillis said, recalling Pearl’s response to his hesitancy about speaking in public, in an interview published in the newsletter of the International Songwriters Association in 2002.

“I was so bashful and scared,” he went on, “and she said, ‘If they laugh they’ll be laughing with you, not against you.’ And I began to tell anecdotes that had happened to me, and people would laugh. And I began to like that, you know.”

Mel Tillis, Glen Campbell, & Minnie Pearl – The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1972) – Auctioneer Video by Glen Campbell – A Tribute

Even so, he said of his speech impediment in a 1976 interview with People magazine, “One of my main objectives in life has been to whip this.”

Though at times eclipsed by his fondness for drollery, Mr. Tillis’s early artistic reputation rested on the decidedly sober material he wrote for honky-tonk singers like Mr. Pierce and Ray Price. “Detroit City,” a wistful ode to homesickness written with Danny Dill, became a Top 10 country and Top 20 pop hit for Bobby Bare in 1963.

Mr. Tillis also contributed hits to the Patsy Cline catalog, including “So Wrong,” composed with Mr. Dill and the rockabilly singer and guitarist Carl Perkins. “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” an anguished ballad sung from the perspective of a disabled Vietnam War veteran whose wife is cheating on him, was covered by numerous artists. The 1969 recording by Kenny Rogers and First Edition reached the pop Top 10 and the country Top 40.

Billed solo or with his band, the Statesiders, Mr. Tillis had six No. 1 country singles, including “Coca-Cola Cowboy,” which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1978 Clint Eastwood movie, “Every Which Way but Loose.” He placed a total of 35 singles in the country Top 10, 15 in a row from 1976 to 1981, before the hits stopped coming in the mid-1980s.

He was named entertainer of the year by the Country Music Association in 1976. He was also inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame that year and elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007. He received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2012.

Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born on Aug. 8, 1932, in Tampa, Fla. His father, Lonnie Lee, worked as a baker and played harmonica and guitar. His mother, the former Burma Rogers, came from a musical family. Together with the rousing hymns of the Baptist church, Mr. Tillis’s parents instilled in him an early love of music.

Mr. Tillis served in the Air Force from 1951 to 1955. After that he briefly attended college in Florida and worked for a railroad and as a truck driver before moving to Nashville in 1957. There he landed a songwriting job with Cedarwood Publishing for $50 a week.

He signed a contract with Columbia Records in 1958 but did not enjoy success until five years later, and then only of the middling variety, when “How Come Your Dog Don’t Bite Nobody but Me,” a novelty number he sang with Mr. Pierce, reached the country Top 40.

Mr. Tillis went on to record for a number of labels and release some 60 albums, among them “Mel & Nancy” (1981), a collection of duets with the daughter of his friend Frank Sinatra. He also had minor roles in comedic action films like “Smokey and the Bandit II” (1980) and “The Cannonball Run” (1981) and appeared regularly on TV talk and variety shows including “The Tonight Show” and “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.”

A savvy entrepreneur, Mr. Tillis established a number of successful business ventures, including song publishing and film production companies, a music theater in Branson, Mo., and a 1,400-acre working farm, where he raised cattle, corn and tobacco, in Ashland City, Tenn., west of Nashville.

He is survived by his longtime partner, Kathy DeMonaco; his first wife and the mother of five of his children, Doris Tillis; a sister, Linda Crosby; a brother, Richard Tillis; six children: Pam Tillis, Connie Tillis, Cindy Shorey, Mel Tillis Jr. (known as Sonny), Carrie April Tillis and Hannah Puryear; six grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

His daughter Pam, a singer and songwriter, released a tribute album to him, “It’s All Relative: Tillis Sings Tillis,” in 2002.

Exploiting his speech impediment for laughs might not have been politically correct, but Mr. Tillis knew that living with a disability had its serious side.

“Stuttering brings out some very strange reactions,” he wrote in his autobiography. “It makes some folks feel nervous and uncomfortable, while others laugh because they find it funny. A lot of people think I’m putting it on. But I don’t worry about that because people who stutter know I stutter. And that’s what counts.

“Yes, I’ve made a lot of money talking this way. But I didn’t ask to be called the singer who stutters. Sometimes I feel the stutter is bigger than the song. I like to think that I have some God-given talent, too.”

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LIGO Sees Smallest Black Hole Binary Yet

Sky & Telescope
LIGO has detected another black hole merger, raising the tally to five. Read more…

Sky-sweeping Telescope Sees First Light

Sky & Telescope
The Zwicky Transient Facility has taken its first image, covering an area equivalent to 247 full Moons in a single shot. This beginning is part of an ongoing sea change in astronomy. Read more…

Planet Orbits Quiet Star 11 Light-years Away

Sky & Telescope
Astronomers have discovered a potentially rocky planet around a red dwarf star just 11 light-years away. Read more…

Orbital Path Podcast: The 11 Dimensions of Brian Greene

Sky & Telescope
In this episode of Orbital Path, we hear from Brian Greene on the coming paradigm shift in physics as current theories fail to adequately explain quantum entanglement. Read more…

NASA Completes Critical Parachute Test for Mars 2020 Rover

Sky & Telescope
A suborbital launch from Wallops Flight Facility tested a critical piece of landing hardware for the Mars 2020 rover. Read more…


This Week’s Sky at a Glance, November 17 – 25

Sky & Telescope
Challenge planets, faint fuzzies naked-eye, and an explanation of why the Sun may already be setting near its earliest for you, all in this week’s Sky at a Glance! Read more…

Fishing for Double Stars in Pisces

Sky & Telescope
Pisces, that sprawling constellation of faint stars easy to ignore, holds a treasure trove of double stars for small telescopes. Read more…

Tour November’s Sky: Predawn Planets

Sky & Telescope

As you’ll hear in this month’s astronomy podcast, Venus and Jupiter are putting on quite a show low in the east before dawn. Read more…


Astrophotography: Imaging Foundations

Sky & Telescope
Astrophotographer Richard S. Wright, Jr. embarks on his imaging blog. Join him each month to learn how to get the most out of your imaging equipment. Read more…

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Hatewatch Headlines 11/17/2017

Trump’s rhetoric felt in communities hit by hate crimes; DHS appointee suddenly steps aside; Inside the fake ‘Pizzagate’ scandal; and more.


Think Progress: Communities hit by rising hate crimes say Trump’s rhetoric is having a devastating impact.

Chicago Tribune: Trump appointee resigns from DHS outreach position after reports of bigoted remarks are uncovered.

Rolling Stone: Inside the web of conspiracy theorists and operatives behind the fake ‘Pizzagate’ scandal.

Newsweek: Alt-right women asked to ‘choose submission’ in order to grow their political movement.

Raw Story: Twitter staffers accuse company of being too slow to act on white supremacists.

Crooks and Liars: Alt-righters and Nazis are throwing a tantrum over losing Twitter verification, and it’s glorious.

Washington Post: What happens when neo-Nazis hijack your brand.

The Root: ‘Anonymous’ disables more than a dozen white-supremacist sites in coordinated hacking attack.

Right Wing Watch: Alabama’s Roy Moore has a history of bigotry, extremism, and contempt for the rule of law.

Media Matters: Anti-LGBT hate group leader Mat Staver gives 13-minute defense of Roy Moore, attacks women.

Slate: Trump judicial nominee Brett Talley appears to have defended ‘the first KKK’ in message-board post.

Talking Points Memo: Lone Democrat on ‘Voter Fraud Commission’ escalates his legal battle with panel.

MLive (Ann Arbor, MI): Two minor girls charged in beating of gay teen as calls for hate-crime law grow.

Oregonian: Doc Martens boot billboard evokes classic white-supremacist symbol, activists say.

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