His death was announced by his son, Wade, the defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans.
Outfitted in a white Stetson, work shirt, jeans and cowboy boots — including a powder-blue pair to match the Oiler colors — Phillips was a square-jawed, buzz-cut outsize character with a host of one-liners.
When he became the Oilers coach and general manager in 1975, replacing Sid Gillman, who was renowned as a master of passing attacks, Phillips was charged with rebuilding a downtrodden franchise. He did just that, developing an outstanding defense anchored by Elvin Bethea at end and Curley Culp at nose tackle, and an offense spurred by the brilliant running of Earl Campbell, all of them future Hall of Famers. And he made astute pickups of unheralded players in twice taking Houston to the brink of the Super Bowl.
Making the playoffs as a wild-card team, the Oilers lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers — the eventual Super Bowl champions — in the 1978 and 1979 season American Football Conference championship games. When they arrived home on Jan. 7, 1980, after the second of those losses to the Steelers, a capacity crowd welcomed them at the Astrodome in the late-night hours.
“Last year we knocked on the door,” Phillips told the fans, wiping back tears. “This year we banged on it.”
He promised to kick the door down the following season, and went on to trade quarterback Dan Pastorini to the Oakland Raiders for Kenny Stabler, hoping that would bolster the offense.
“Me and Bum are as alike as two piles of cow manure,” Stabler, a native of small-town Alabama, was quoted as saying by Sports Illustrated upon joining the Oilers. “The guy is just an unpretentious cowboy who happens to be a football coach.”
But the Oilers were beaten in a December 1980 wild-card playoff game by the soon-to-be Super Bowl champion Raiders. K. S. Adams Jr., the Oilers’ founder and owner, known as Bud, fired Phillips on New Year’s Eve, a few days after that loss, citing his refusal to hire an offensive coordinator, thus ending the Phillips era that Oiler fans called Love Ya Blue.
In 1981, Phillips was hired as coach and general manager of the New Orleans Saints, who had gone 1-15 the previous season. The Saints nearly made the 1983 playoffs, but Phillips could not produce a winning team in his four-plus seasons.
When his Saints were dominated by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter of their Nov. 12, 1985, game, suffering their fifth consecutive loss, Phillips remarked how “the harder we play, the behinder we get.”
He resigned that month with three years left on his contract and the Saints at 4-8. His son, Wade, his defensive coordinator, finished out the season as head coach.
“There’s two kinds of coaches,” Phillips once said. “Them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.”
Oail Andrew Phillips was born on Sept. 29, 1923, in Orange, Tex., the son of a truck driver. “My name’s pronounced ‘Awl,’ but no one could pronounce it right,” he once told The New York Times. “Even in school, I answered to the name Bum. Oail was my daddy’s first name, too. But he went by the nickname Flip.”
Bum Phillips got his nickname when a younger sister, Edrina, tried to say “brother,” only to have it come out as “bumble” and later “bum.”
“I don’t mind being called Bum,” Phillips once remarked, “just as long as you don’t put a ‘you’ in front of it.”
Phillips played football at Lamar College (now Lamar University) in Beaumont, Tex., served in the Marines during World War II, then played for Stephen F. Austin State College (now Stephen F. Austin State University) in Nacogdoches, Tex. He graduated in 1949, then coached football at Texas high schools.
“‘If you grow up in Texas,” Wade Phillips once recalled, “and your dad is a head coach at the high school, and really successful, he’s the big man in town. You’d go to the barber shop or wherever, and: ‘Ol’ Bum’s a great guy, boy. We all love him.’ ”
Phillips coached as an assistant at colleges in the Southwest, including a stint under Bear Bryant at Texas A&M, and he was head coach at Texas Western (now Texas-El Paso) in 1962.
He was hired as a defensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers in 1967 when Gillman was their head coach, and became Gillman’s defensive coordinator with the Oilers in 1974.
When Phillips succeeded Gillman as head coach and general manager a year later, his 3-4 defense — three down linemen and four linebackers — proved effective against the run as well as the pass. Wade Phillips became his assistant in charge of the defensive line and linebackers.
Phillips was popular with his players, keeping them fresh by shunning overly long practices and encouraging camaraderie. He had a record of 55-35 with the Oilers, who became the Tennessee Titans in 1997, and he was 27-42 with the Saints. He was later a TV and radio analyst for the Oilers and owned a ranch in South Texas near Goliad.
In addition to his son, Wade, a former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos and the Buffalo Bills, Phillips is survived by his wife, Debbie, whom he married in 1990; five daughters from a previous marriage, Susan, Cicely, Dee Jean, Andrea and KimAnn; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Phillips could be generous with praise for a fellow coach. Perhaps his best-remembered line came when he saluted Bear Bryant or Don Shula — perhaps both — depending on the version cited.
“He can take his’n and beat your’n,” Phillips said. “Or he can take your’n and beat his’n.”
MAXINE POWELL, MOTOWN’S MAVEN OF STYLE
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: October 16, 2013
- Maxine Powell, the Miss Manners of Motown, who as the director of the label’s in-house finishing school in the 1960s was considered in no small part responsible for its early success, died on Monday in Southfield, Mich. She was 98.
Tony Ding/Associated Press
Maxine Powell in 2009. “I teach class,” she said of her record-label work, “and class will turn the heads of kings and queens.”
Her death was announced by the Motown Museum in Detroit.
In a statement on Monday, Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown Records, said that Mrs. Powell “brought something to Motown that no other record company had,” adding of his artists, “She was tough, but when she got through with them, they were poised, professional and very thankful.”
At Motown, Mrs. Powell presided over what is believed to have been the only finishing school at an American record label at any time. Her disciples — young, scrappy and untried — included many future titans of American popular music, whom she polished with the finesse of a diamond cutter.
“Mrs. Powell was always a lady of grace, elegance and style, and we did our best to emulate her,” Martha Reeves, the former lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “I don’t think I would have been successful at all without her training.”
Among her other pupils were the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson. Diana Ross, the Supremes’ former lead singer, has described Mrs. Powell as “the person who taught me everything I know.”
Officially, Mrs. Powell was a director of Motown’s artist development department. But in reality she was equal parts headmistress, psychotherapist, iron-willed favorite aunt and temperate bartender.
Her combined ministrations, she told her charges, were meant to equip them for precisely two contingencies: invitations to the White House and invitations to Buckingham Palace.
“I teach class,” Mrs. Powell was fond of saying. “And class will turn the heads of kings and queens.”
Though Mrs. Powell was associated with the label for just five years, from 1964 to 1969, her presence was felt long beyond.
“Every asset of my personality has been by her influence,” said Ms. Reeves, who became a lifelong friend. “Even to the end, she was making sure that I was standing with posture and exuberant grace.”
At Motown, singers were required to take instruction from Mrs. Powell for two hours a day whenever they were in Detroit. Her curriculum covered deportment onstage and off: how to speak impeccably and stand erect, how to glide instead of merely walking, how to sit in a limousine with the ankles crossed just so.
There was also individualized instruction. Ms. Ross, for instance, favored exorbitantly long false eyelashes. That did not sit well with Mrs. Powell, who installed shorter ones.
Mr. Gaye liked to sing with his eyes closed. That did not sit well with Mrs. Powell either, and she insisted he keep them open.
She once came upon the Supremes practicing a dance called the shake. That emphatically did not sit well with Mrs. Powell, as she recalled in a 1986 interview with People magazine:
“ ‘You are protruding the buttocks,’ ” she admonished them. “ ‘Whenever you do a naughty step like the shake, add some class to it. Instead of shaking and acting tough, you should roll your buttocks under and keep smiling all the time.’ Then I showed them. They were shocked that I could do it and at how much better it looked my way.”
Though Mrs. Powell was barely more than five feet tall, the world seemed scarcely large enough to contain her. By the time she arrived at Motown, she had been a stage actress, model and manicurist; a charm-school director; and the founder of the what is widely described as Detroit’s first modeling agency for African-Americans.
Maxine Blair was born on May 30, 1915, in Texarkana, Tex., and reared by an aunt in Chicago. She began acting as a teenager, eventually appearing with the Negro Drama League, a black repertory company there.
She later worked as a model and trained as a manicurist and cosmetologist at Madam C. J. Walker’s School of Beauty Culture, founded by the celebrated black entrepreneur.
After moving to Detroit in the 1940s, Mrs. Powell founded the Maxine Powell Finishing and Modeling School in 1951, which placed the first black models in campaigns for the city’s major automakers.
One of Mrs. Powell’s models was Gwen Gordy, Berry’s sister. She told her brother that Mrs. Powell was just the person to groom his young stars.
Mr. Gordy demurred at first, seeing no need. But his sister prevailed, and before long Mrs. Powell had closed her agency and moved to Motown, where she made herself indispensable.
She often accompanied the artists on tour, serving as sounding board, chaperon and restrained mixologist.
“After a performance, I made all the drinks,” Mrs. Powell told People. “Melvin Franklin of the Temptations said you had to have five of my drinks before you ever felt anything.”
Mrs. Powell’s marriage to James Powell ended in divorce. No immediate family members survive.
After leaving Motown, Mrs. Powell taught personal development for many years at Wayne County Community College in Detroit. She later worked part time as an aide to Ms. Reeves when she served on the Detroit City Council from 2005 to 2009.
One of the most noteworthy things about Mrs. Powell’s tenure at Motown was her prescience. One day, she recalled in the interview with People, she taught her students how to sit on stools.
The Supremes objected.
“We don’t go to bars, why should we sit on a stool?” they said.
“A lady with class can sit on a garbage pail and look good,” Mrs. Powell replied.
Shortly afterward, the Supremes appeared on “The Mike Douglas Show,” and lo and behold, there were stools there.
The Supremes sat, and by Mrs. Powell’s lights, they sat well.
Many people do not give a second or first thought about what went into the putting together of wardrobes and styles that famous Motown singers became well-known for.
Even something so simple as sitting on a stool could give a lasting impression to the viewer as what happened with The Supremes when Ms. Maxine Powell schooled them on ladylike demeanor no matter where they were, or on what they sat.
Something so simple as deportment onstage and off, and how they spoke when answering questions from such luminaries as Ed Sullivan and others, took them far in life in speaking, posture, sitting and getting into a limousine, and even gliding instead of walking.
Ms. Powell was one of a kind, and she will be missed.
Rest in peace, Ms. Powell.
Rest in peace.
OSCAR HIJUELOS, WHO WON PULITZER FOR TALE OF CUBAN-AMERICAN LIFE
Oscar Hidalgo for The New York Times
Oscar Hijuelos in Miami in 2010.
By BRUCE WEBER
Published: October 13, 2013
- Oscar Hijuelos, a Cuban-American novelist who wrote about the lives of immigrants adapting to a new culture and became the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his 1989 book, “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love,” died on Saturday in Manhattan. He was 62.
Antonio Banderas, left, and Armand Assante play Cuban brothers who come to New York to make their fortune in “The Mambo Kings,” based on the novel by Oscar Hijuelos.
Mr. Hijuelos collapsed on a tennis court and never regained consciousness, his wife, Lori Marie Carlson, said.
A New Yorker by birth, education and residence, Mr. Hijuelos (pronounced ee-HWAY-los) was said to have been more American-Cuban than Cuban-American.
In novels like “Our House in the Last World” (1983), which traces a family’s travails from Havana in 1939 to Spanish Harlem; “Mambo Kings,” about the rise and fall of the Castillo brothers, Cesar, a flamboyant and profligate bandleader, and his ruminative trumpeter brother, Nestor; and “The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O’Brien” (1993), about several generations of a Cuban-Irish family in Pennsylvania, he wrote about the non-native experience in the United States from a sympathetic, occasionally amused perspective and with a keen eye for detail in his period settings.
Unlike that of many well-known Latin writers, his work was rarely outwardly political, focusing instead on the conundrums of assimilation. And rather than employing a syncopated musicality or fantastical flights of magic realism, Mr. Hijuelos wrote fluid prose, sonorous but more earthy than poetic, with a forthright American cadence.
“Everything was different back when; 125th Street was jumping with clubs, there was less violence, there were fewer beggars; more mutual respect between people,” he wrote, as Cesar Castillo reflected on his halcyon days.
“He could take a late-night stroll from the apartment on La Salle street, walk down Broadway, cut east on 110th Street to Central Park, and then walk along its twisting paths and across the little bridges over streams and rocks, enjoying the scent of the woods and nature’s beauty without a worry. He’d make his way to the Park Palace Ballroom at 3 Fifth Avenue, to hear Machito or Tito Puente, find musician friends at the bar, chase women, dance.
“You could walk through that park wearing your best clothes and a nice expensive watch without worrying about someone coming up behind you and pressing a knife against the back of your neck. Man, those days were gone forever.”
His characters were not necessarily new arrivals — in Mr. Hijuelos’s books, which sometimes ranged over decades, they certainly didn’t remain so — but in various stages of absorbing the sometimes assaultive American culture while holding on to an ethnic and national identity.
Cesar and Nestor and their band, the Mambo Kings, do achieve a brief period of celebrity, and at one point — the high point, in fact, of the brothers’ fame before it begins to flicker and fade — they appear on the television sitcom “I Love Lucy,” which starred Lucille Ball and her husband, the Cuban bandleader and actor Desi Arnaz.
“In the biography of a successful artist, the ‘I Love Lucy’ appearance would take on a kind of mythic quality: it would stand as one of those happily ironic moments signifying the hero’s own ascent toward the American dream,” Michiko Kakutani wrote in her review in The New York Times. “But in the case of the Castillo brothers, the “I Love Lucy” show provides no more than a momentary glimpse of success. Although it will be rerun endlessly on late-night television, it will remain just a bit of cherished family folklore, an anonymous (and dead-end) brush with fame.
“Indeed, Oscar Hijuelos’s remarkable new novel is another kind of American story — an immigrant story of lost opportunities and squandered hopes. While it dwells in bawdy detail on Cesar’s sexual escapades, while it portrays the musical world of the ’50s in bright, primary colors, the novel is essentially elegiac in tone — a Chekhovian lament for a life of missed connections and misplaced dreams.”
Oscar Jerome Hijuelos was born in Manhattan on Aug. 24, 1951, and grew up in the borough’s northern Morningside Heights neighborhood that later often figured in his books. His parents, Pascual, a cook at the Biltmore Hotel, and Magdalena Torrens Hijuelos, emigrated from Cuba in the 1940s.
The family spoke Spanish at home, and young Oscar became fluent in English only after a 1955 visit to Cuba, where he contracted a severe kidney infection that required him to spend a year away from his family in a Connecticut hospital.
“It was during that long separation from my family that I became estranged from the Spanish language and, therefore, my roots,” he wrote in a 2011 essay in The New York Times.
Mr. Hijuelos graduated from Louis D. Brandeis High School in Manhattan and attended several colleges in New York City, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Fine Arts from City College. “Our House in the Last World,” his first novel, was published in 1983.Mr. Hijuelos’s first marriage ended in divorce. He met Ms. Carlson, a writer and editor, in 1983 at the Center for Inter-American Relations, where she was an executive. The organization, now known as the Americas Society, promotes diplomacy between the United States and Latin America. They struck up a friendship and she became a sounding board for him, listening as he read aloud the manuscript that became “Mambo Kings.”
“In 1989, he called one night and said he’d like to take me to dinner,” she recalled in a telephone interview Sunday. “He said, ‘Because my second novel is being published and I want to thank you.’” That was the beginning of a romance. They married in 1998. She teaches at Duke University, as did her husband. They have homes in Manhattan; Durham, N.C.; and Branford, Conn.
Mr. Hijuelos is also survived by a brother, José.
“The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love” was made into a 1992 movie (called simply “The Mambo Kings”) starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas as Cesar and Nestor Castillo. In 2005 a stage musical adaptation appeared in San Francisco but a planned Broadway opening was canceled.
Mr. Hijuelos’s later novels include “Mr. Ives’s Christmas” (1995) about a man whose life is in tatters after the murder of his son, and “Empress of the Splendid Season” (1999), about a Cuban émigré, once the spoiled daughter of a well-to-do businessman, who has become a cleaning woman in New York. “A Simple Habana Melody (From When the World was Good)” (2002) tells the story of Israel Levis, a Cuban composer returning home in 1947 after years of living in Europe, including being imprisoned by the Nazis, who had thought he was a Jew; and in “Beautiful Maria of My Soul,” (2010), Mr. Hijuelos returned to a character from “Mambo Kings,” the woman who broke Nestor’s heart, filling in her life from the time she vanished from his.
He also wrote a young adult novel, “Dark Dude” (2008), about an introspective Cuban boy living in a tough Harlem neighborhood, and a memoir, “Thoughts Without Cigarettes” (2011).
“Despite the strange baggage that I carried about my upbringing,” Mr. Hijuelos wrote in The Times in 2011 about the evolution of his view of his cultural background, “and despite the relative loss of my first language, I eventually came to the point that, when I heard Spanish, I found my heart warming. And that was the moment when I began to look through another window, not out onto 118th Street, but into myself — through my writing, the process by which, for all my earlier alienation, I had finally returned home.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: October 13, 2013
An earlier version of this article misstated the given name of Oscar Hijuelos’s wife. She is Lori Marie Carlson, not Lisa Marie.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: October 16, 2013
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the current name of the organization for which Mr. Hijuelos’s wife, Lori Marie Carlson, worked when it was known as the Center for Inter-American Relations. It is the Americas Society, not the Americas Center. And an earlier correction misstated Ms. Carlson’s surname as Hijuelos.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: October 17, 2013
An obituary on Monday about the author Oscar Hijuelos misstated part of the current name of the organization for which Mr. Hijuelos’s wife, Lori Marie Carlson, worked when it was known as the Center for Inter-American Relations. It is the Americas Society, not the Americas Center.
GLORIA LYNNE, SINGER OF ‘I WISH YOU LOVE’
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Published: October 18, 2013
- Gloria Lynne, a jazz diva who climbed onto the pop charts with her recording of “I Wish You Love” in 1964 and continued singing for more than half a century even in the face of poverty, died on Oct. 8 in Newark. She was 83.
Andrew Lepley/Redferns, via Getty Images
The cause was heart failure, said her son, P. J. Allen.
During her long career, Ms. Lynne’s resonant contralto was heard on more than 25 albums. She performed with Ray Charles and Johnny Mathis and toured with Ella Fitzgerald.
She began recording for Everest Records in 1958, and six years later her rendition of “I Wish You Love,” the English-language version of a French song recorded in 1942 by Charles Trenet, became her most enduring hit. A lament accompanied by a lush string arrangement, it peaked at No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100. Ms. Lynne later said that she learned the song the evening before recording it.
“I learned it overnight, and I really wasn’t too pleased with it,” she said in an interview for an oral history of the Apollo Theater in 2009. “And they said, ‘This is going to be the single.’ And I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ”
Ms. Lynne became popular enough to appear on Harry Belafonte’s network television special “The Strolling ’20s” in 1966, and many of her records sold well. But she said she received virtually no royalties from record sales, only more bookings. Her popularity waned as tastes shifted in the 1970s, and she had to supplement her income by taking temporary work. For a while she was homeless.
“They say, ‘Well, if you weren’t being paid, why did you continue to sing?’ ” she said. “I couldn’t throw away what gift I had because of the money.”
“From My Heart to Yours,” her last studio album, was released in 2007.
Gloria Mia Wilson was born in Harlem to John and Mary Wilson on Nov. 23, 1929. (Some sources list her birth year as 1931.) She sang in church choirs, was briefly trained for opera and attended concerts at the Apollo while growing up. At 15 she sneaked out of her home and lied about her age to compete in the amateur night contest there. She won, she said, and was smacked by her mother for lying about it.
After taking up with a man named Harry Alleyne, she began using his last name. When she performed at local clubs, announcers stumbled over her surname so often that they began shortening it to Lynne.
She also recorded demos of new songs for Dinah Washington and others to hear before recording their own versions. The composer and bandleader Raymond Scott heard one of these demos and helped Ms. Lynne sign with Everest.
She and Mr. Alleyne divorced in 1968.
Besides her son, Ms. Lynne, who lived in East Orange, N.J., is survived by a brother, John Wilson.
Her final performance was at the Manhattan nightclub 54 Below in August. It included “I Wish You Love.”
ED LAUTER, ACTOR WITH A FAMILIAR FACE
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: October 17, 2013
- Ed Lauter, a character actor whose long, angular face and stern bearing in scores of roles made him an instantly recognizable figure in movies and on television for five decades, died on Wednesday at his home in West Hollywood, Calif. He was 74.
Universal Pictures, via Photofest
Ed Lauter said that many of the characters he played were inspired by people he had grown up observing.
The cause was mesothelioma, a form of cancer most commonly caused by asbestos exposure, his publicist, Edward Lozzi, said.
Menacing characters were his forte. He was the brutal prison guard and Burt Reynolds’s nemesis in the 1974 comedy-drama “The Longest Yard” and the sleazy gas station attendant in Alfred Hitchcock’s last film, “Family Plot” (1976). In “Death Wish 3” (1985), he was the violent police officer who teamed up with Charles Bronson’s vigilante to rid New York City’s streets of criminals by killing them.
More recently he was the butler to the ingénue played by Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist,” which won the Oscar for best film in 2012.
His numerous other movies included Oliver Stone’s “Born on the Fourth of July,” with Tom Cruise; “The New Centurions,” with George C. Scott; and the comedies “My Blue Heaven,” “Revenge of the Nerds II” and “Not Another Teen Movie.” His television credits included “The Office,” “ER,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Rockford Files.”
Mr. Lauter described himself in a 2010 interview with Cinema Shock magazine as a “turn“ actor, someone who shows up in a film and turns the plot in a different direction.
He said that many of the characters he played were inspired by people he had grown up observing in Long Beach, N.Y., where he was born Edward Matthew Lauter II on Oct. 30, 1938.
He began his career doing comedy on and around Long Island. After serving in the Army, he appeared on Broadway in “The Great White Hope,” with James Earl Jones.
Mr. Lauter continued to work until a few months ago. He was in “Trouble With the Curve,” with Clint Eastwood, last year, and had roles in films still to be released. The last film he completed is a remake of the 1976 horror movie “The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” scheduled for a 2014 release.
Survivors include his wife, Mia; two daughters, Emma and Ameka Lauter; two sons, Ben and Anton; and two sisters, Sally Traube and Elizabeth Lauter.
Mr. Lauter said he was frequently recognized in public but added, “Sometimes people don’t know my name.”
“They’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah! There’s that guy! You were in … you were in … ’ ”
Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.
Yes, Mr. Lauter had a face that was recognizable, but, I am surprised the article does not mention two movies in which Mr. Lauter gave memorable performances:
Executive Action: a film about a conspiracy to assassinate JFK, also starring Burt Lancaster, and Will Geer;
Cujo: a film where the tagline was, “Now, terror has a new name”.
Mr. Lauter’s films may have not rung a bell with many people, but his acting skills certainly left quite an impression on many of his fans.
He will be missed.
Rest in peace, Mr. Lauter.
Rest in peace.