ANNTEE FUNICELLO, BELOVED MOUSEKETEER AND STAR OF BEACH MOVIES
Published: April 8, 2013
- Annette Funicello, who won America’s heart as a 12-year-old in Mickey Mouse ears, captivated adolescent baby boomers in slightly spicy beach movies and later championed people with multiple sclerosis, a disease she had for more than 25 years, died on Monday in Bakersfield, Calif. She was 70.
The Mickey Mouse Club, 1955-1959. From left: Jimmie Dodd, Annette Funicello, Tommy Cole, Doreen Tracey. More Photos »
Her death, from complications of the disease, was announced on the Disney Web site.
As an adult Ms. Funicello described herself as “the queen of teen,” and millions around her age agreed. Young audiences appreciated her sweet, forthright appeal, and parents saw her as the perfect daughter.
She was the last of the 24 original Mouseketeers chosen for “The Mickey Mouse Club,” the immensely popular children’s television show that began in 1955, when fewer than two-thirds of households had television sets. Walt Disney personally discovered her at a ballet performance.
Before long, she was getting more than 6,000 fan letters a week, and was known by just her first name in a manner that later defined celebrities like Cher, Madonna and Prince.
Sometimes called “America’s girl next door,” she nonetheless managed to be at the center of the action during rock ’n’ roll’s exuberant emergence. She was the youngest member of Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars tour, which included LaVern Baker, the Drifters, Bobby Rydell, the Coasters and Paul Anka. Mr. Anka, her boyfriend, wrote “Puppy Love” for her in her parents’ living room.
As a Mouseketeer, she received a steady stream of wristwatches, school rings and even engagement rings from young men, all of which she returned. She wrote in her 1994 autobiography, “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” that irate mothers often wrote back to say “how hard Johnny or Tommy had worked to save the money for the gift and how dare I return it?”
She said that if she had charm (she undeniably had modesty), it was partly a result of her shyness. Mr. Disney begged her to call him Uncle Walt, but she could manage only “Mr. Disney.” (She could handle “Uncle Makeup” and “Aunt Hairdresser.”)
At the height of her stardom, she said her ambition was to quit show business and have nine children.
With minor exceptions, like her commercials for Skippy peanut butter, Ms. Funicello did become a homemaker after marrying at 22. One reason, she said, was her reluctance to take parts at odds with her squeaky-clean image. She had three children.
Her cheerfulness was legendary. Her response to learning she had multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease of the central nervous system, was to start a charity to find a cure.
There was no irony, only warm good feeling, in her oft-repeated remark about the world’s pre-eminent rodent: “Mickey is more than a mouse to me. I am honored to call him a friend.”
Annette Joanne Funicello was born on Oct. 22, 1942, in Utica, N.Y., and as the first grandchild on either side of the family was indulged to the point of being, in her own words, a “spoiled brat.” At age 2, she learned the words to every song on the hit parade, her favorite being “Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive.”
In 1946, her parents decided to move to Southern California in the hope of doing better economically. They lived in a trailer park until her father, a mechanic, found work. They settled in Studio City and later moved to Encino.
Annette took dancing lessons, learned to play drums and, at 9, was named Miss Willow Lake at a poolside beauty contest. She did some modeling. Mr. Disney, who wanted amateurs and not professional child actors, discovered her when she danced in “Swan Lake” at a local recital.
“The Mickey Mouse Club” was instantly popular, generating orders for 24,000 mouse-eared beanies a day. Annette quickly became the most popular Mouseketeer, and Disney marketed everything from Annette lunchboxes and dolls to mystery novels about her fictionalized adventures.
But she did not receive special treatment. When she lost a pair of felt mouse ears, she was charged $55. It was deducted from her $185 weekly paycheck.
She once decided she wanted to change her last name to something more typically American. She chose Turner. But Mr. Disney, whom she considered a second father, convinced her that her own name would be more memorable once people learned it.
In 1958, as “The Mickey Mouse Club” was ending its run, Mr. Disney summoned Ms. Funicello to his office. She feared she was going to be fired for growing too tall, but instead he offered her a studio contract — the only one given to a Mouseketeer.
Her first movie role was in “The Shaggy Dog,” Disney’s first live-action comedy. Then came the television series “Zorro.” Next she was “loaned out,” in industry talk, to CBS to appear on the Danny Thomas sitcom “Make Room for Daddy.” She also pursued a recording career, and had two Top 10 singles: “Tall Paul” in 1959 and “O Dio Mio” in 1960.
Ms. Funicello embodied youth, good cheer and beach parties for children of the ’50s and ’60s.
She and her family continued living as they had, with her father working five days a week at a gas station and everyone pitching in to do housework. She was not allowed to date until she was 16. When her mother was asked how she was able to keep life so normal, she answered succinctly, “Nothing impressed us.”
Ms. Funicello had crushes on her fellow singers Fabian Forte and Frankie Avalon but fell hard for Mr. Anka. “As Paul wrote in his hit song about us,” she wrote, “just because we were 17 didn’t mean that, for us, our love wasn’t real.”
But their careers were increasingly busy, and time together was scant. When Ms. Funicello finally told Mr. Anka that she really cared for him, he replied, “What script did you get that from?”
Her records continued, including the albums “Hawaiiannette,” “Italiannette” and “Dance Annette.” Movie parts included “Babes in Toyland,” in which she sang “I Can’t Do the Sum.” (She actually could, as proved by her straight-A high school record.)
When Mr. Disney told her he had been approached by American International Pictures about her making a beach movie, he said he thought it sounded like “good clean fun,” but asked her not to expose her navel. She readily agreed.
She and Mr. Avalon ultimately starred in a series of beach movies together, beginning with “Beach Party” in 1963. She harbored no illusions that she and Mr. Avalon were the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of their generation. “Ma and Pa Kettle of the surf set,” she suggested instead.
On Jan. 9, 1965, Ms. Funicello married her agent, Jack Gilardi. Charles M. Schulz, in his “Peanuts” comic strip, showed Linus reading a paper, clutching his security blanket and wailing: “I can’t stand it! This is terrible! How depressing. … ANNETTE FUNICELLO HAS GROWN UP!”
She made a few films in the middle and late 1960s, including “Fireball” and “Thunder Alley,” but her attention was focused on her children, Gina, Jack Jr. and Jason Michael. During the 1970s and early 1980s, she appeared occasionally on TV but was known principally for commercials, including her memorable issuing of the Skippy peanut butter challenge: Which has more protein? (Bologna and fish were not the correct answers.)
In 1987, she and Mr. Avalon reunited to do a self-mocking beach party movie. She wore polka dots with matching hair bows, and he portrayed a work-obsessed car salesman who hates the beach. Their fictional son wore punk clothes and carried a switchblade.
But Ms. Funicello’s main concern was being a good mom, her daughter, Gina, said. In a 1994 interview, she told In Style magazine that her mother “was always there for car pools, Hot Dog Day and the PTA.”
In 1981 Ms. Funicello divorced Mr. Gilardi. In 1986 she married Glen Holt, a horse breeder. Mr. Holt, who cared for Ms. Funicello in her later years, survives her, along with her 3 children, 4 stepchildren, 12 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
Ms. Funicello learned she had M.S. in 1987 but kept her condition secret for five years. She announced the illness after becoming concerned that the unsteadiness the disease caused would be misinterpreted as drunkenness.
She set up the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases and underwent brain surgery in 1999 in an attempt to control tremors caused by her disease.
But for many, Annette Funicello remained forever young, whether in mouse ears or a modest bathing suit. Some may even recognize a ditty from the long-ago television shows:
Ask the birds and ask the bees
And ask the stars above
Who’s their favorite sweet brunette;
You know, each one confesses:
Annette! Annette! Annette!
MARGARET THATCHER, ‘IRON LADY’ WHO SET BRITAIN ON A NEW COURSE
Margaret Thatcher, the first female prime minister of Britain, held the office for 11 years. More Photos »
By JOSEPH R. GREGORY
Published: April 8, 2013
- Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” of British politics, who set her country on a rightward economic course, led it to victory in the Falklands war and helped guide the United States and the Soviet Union through the cold war’s difficult last years, died on Monday in London. She was 87.
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Her spokesman, Tim Bell, said she died of a stroke at the Ritz Hotel. She had been in poor health for months and had suffered from dementia.
Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a visit to Continental Europe to return to Britain after receiving the news, and Queen Elizabeth II authorized a ceremonial funeral with military honors — a notch below a state funeral — at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. A statement from the White House said that “the world has lost one of the great champions of freedom and liberty, and America has lost a true friend.”
Mrs. Thatcher was the first woman to become prime minister of Britain and the first to lead a major Western power in modern times. Hard-driving and hardheaded, she led her Conservative Party to three straight election wins and held office for 11 years — May 1979 to November 1990 — longer than any other British politician in the 20th century.
The strong economic medicine she administered to a country sickened by inflation, budget deficits and industrial unrest brought her wide swings in popularity, culminating with a revolt among her own cabinet ministers in her final year and her shout of “No! No! No!” in the House of Commons to any further integration with Europe.
But by the time she left office, the principles known as Thatcherism — the belief that economic freedom and individual liberty are interdependent, that personal responsibility and hard work are the only ways to national prosperity, and that the free-market democracies must stand firm against aggression — had won many disciples. Even some of her strongest critics accorded her a grudging respect.
At home, Mrs. Thatcher’s political successes were decisive. She broke the power of the labor unions and forced the Labour Party to abandon its commitment to nationalized industry, redefine the role of the welfare state and accept the importance of the free market.
Abroad, she won new esteem for a country that had been in decline since its costly victory in World War II. After leaving office, she was honored as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven. But during her first years in power, even many Tories feared that her election might prove a terrible mistake.
In October 1980, 17 months into her first term, Mrs. Thatcher faced disaster. More businesses were failing and more people were out of work than at any time since the Great Depression. Racial and class tensions smoldered. Even her close advisers worried that her push to stanch inflation, sell off nationalized industry and deregulate the economy was devastating the poor, undermining the middle class and courting chaos.
At the Conservative Party conference that month, the moderates grumbled that they were being led by a free-market ideologue oblivious to life on the street and the exigencies of realpolitik. With electoral defeat staring them in the face, cabinet members warned, now was surely a time for compromise.
To Mrs. Thatcher, they could not be more wrong. “I am not a consensus politician,” she said. “I am a conviction politician.”
In an address to the party, she played on the title of Christopher Fry’s popular play “The Lady’s Not for Burning” in insisting that she would press forward with her policies. “You turn if you want to,” she told the faltering assembly. “The lady’s not for turning.”
Her resolve did the trick. A party revolt was thwarted, the Tories hunkered down, and Mrs. Thatcher went on to achieve great victories. She turned the Conservatives, long associated with the status quo, into the party of reform. Her policies revitalized British business, spurred industrial growth and swelled the middle class.
But her third term was riddled with setbacks. Dissension over monetary policy, taxes and Britain’s place in the European Community caused her government to give up hard-won gains against inflation and unemployment. By the time she was ousted in another Tory revolt — this one over her resistance to expanding Britain’s role in a European Union — the economy was in a recession and her reputation tarnished.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: April 8, 2013
An earlier version of this obituary misquoted Lady Thatcher when, in an address to her party, she played on the title of Christopher Fry’s play “The Lady’s Not for Burning.” She said: “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.” She did not say, “Turn if you like.”
JONATHAN WINTERS, UNPREDICTABLE COMIC AND MASTER OF IMPROVISATION
Published: April 12, 2013
- Jonathan Winters, the rubber-faced comedian whose unscripted flights of fancy inspired a generation of improvisational comics, and who kept television audiences in stitches with Main Street characters like Maude Frickert, a sweet-seeming grandmother with a barbed tongue and a roving eye, died on Thursday at his home in Montecito, Calif. He was 87.
Jonathan Winters in 1999. More Photos »
His death was announced on his Web site, JonathanWinters.com.
Mr. Winters, a rotund man whose face had a melancholy basset-hound expression in repose, burst onto the comedy scene in the late 1950s and instantly made his mark as one of the funniest, least definable comics in a rising generation that included Mort Sahl, Shelley Berman and Bob Newhart.
Mr. Winters was at his best when winging it, confounding television hosts and luckless straight men with his rapid-fire delivery of bizarre observations uttered by characters like Elwood P. Suggins, a Midwestern Everyman, or one-off creations like the woodland sprite who bounded onto Jack Paar’s late-night show and simperingly proclaimed: “I’m the voice of spring. I bring you little goodies from the forest.”
A one-man sketch factory, Mr. Winters could re-enact Hollywood movies, complete with sound effects, or create sublime comic nonsense with simple props like a pen-and-pencil set.
The unpredictable, often surreal quality of his humor had a powerful influence on later comedians like Robin Williams but made him hard to package as an entertainer. His brilliant turns as a guest on programs like “The Steve Allen Show” and “The Tonight Show” — in both the Jack Paar and Johnny Carson eras — kept him in constant demand. But a successful television series eluded him, as did a Hollywood career, despite memorable performances in films like “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “The Loved One” and “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming.”
Jonathan Harshman Winters was born on Nov. 11, 1925, in Dayton, Ohio, where his alcoholic father (“a hip Willy Loman,” according to Mr. Winters) worked as an investment broker and his grandfather, a frustrated comedian, owned the Winters National Bank.
“Mother and Dad didn’t understand me; I didn’t understand them,” he told Jim Lehrer on “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” in 1999. “So consequently it was a strange kind of arrangement.” Alone in his room, he would create characters and interview himself.
The family’s fortunes collapsed with the Depression. The Winters National Bank failed, and Jonathan’s parents divorced. His mother took him to Springfield, where she did factory work but eventually became the host of a women’s program on a local radio station. Her son continued talking to himself and developed a repertory of sound effects. He often entertained his high school friends by imitating a race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A poor student, Mr. Winters enlisted in the Marines before finishing high school and during World War II served as a gunner on the aircraft carrier Bon Homme Richard in the Pacific.
After the war he completed high school and, hoping to become a political cartoonist, studied art at Kenyon College and the Dayton Art Institute. In 1948 he married Eileen Schauder, a Dayton native who was studying art at Ohio State. She died in 2009. His survivors include their two children, Jonathan Winters IV, of Camarillo, Calif., known as Jay, and Lucinda, of Santa Barbara, Calif.; and several grandchildren.
At the urging of his wife, Mr. Winters, whose art career seemed to be going nowhere, entered a talent contest in Dayton with his eye on the grand prize, a wristwatch, which he needed. He won, and he was hired as a morning disc jockey at WING, where he made up for his inability to attract guests by inventing them. “I’d make up people like Dr. Hardbody of the Atomic Energy Commission, or an Englishman whose blimp had crash-landed in Dayton,” he told U.S. News and World Report in 1988.
After two years at a Columbus television station, he left for New York in 1953 to break into network radio. Instead he landed bit parts on television and, with surprising ease, found work as a nightclub comic.
A guest spot on Arthur Godfrey’s “Talent Scouts” led to frequent appearances with Jack Paar and Steve Allen, both of them staunch supporters willing to give Mr. Winters free rein. Alistair Cooke, after seeing Mr. Winters at the New York nightclub Le Ruban Bleu, booked him as the first comedian to appear on his arts program “Omnibus.”
In his stand-up act, Mr. Winters initially relied heavily on sound effects — a cracking whip, a creaking door, a hovering U.F.O. — which he used to spice up his re-enactments of horror films, war films and westerns. Gradually he developed a gallery of characters, which expanded when he had his own television shows, beginning with the 15-minute “Jonathan Winters Show,” which ran from 1956 to 1957. He was later seen in a series of specials for NBC in the early 1960s; on an hourlong CBS variety series, “The Jonathan Winters Show,” from 1967 to 1969; and on “The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters,” in syndication, from 1972 to 1974.Many of Mr. Winters’s characters — among them B. B. Bindlestiff, a small-town tycoon, and Piggy Bladder, football coach for the State Teachers’ Animal Husbandry Institute for the Blind — were based on people he grew up with. Maude Frickert, for example, whom he played wearing a white wig and a Victorian granny dress, was inspired by an elderly aunt who let him drink wine and taught him to play poker when he was 9 years old.
ArtsBeat: Video: Remembering Jonathan Winters(April 12, 2013)
Other characters, like the couturier Lance Loveguard and Princess Leilani-nani, the world’s oldest hula dancer, sprang from a secret compartment deep within Mr. Winters’s inventive brain.
As channeled by Mr. Winters, Maude Frickert was a wild card. Reminiscing about her late husband, Pop Frickert, she told a stupefied interviewer: “He was a Spanish dancer in a massage parlor. If somebody came in with a crick in their neck he’d do an orthopedic flamenco all over them. He was tall, dark and out of it.”
One of Mr. Winters’s most popular characters, she appeared in a series of commercials for Hefty garbage bags, which also featured Mr. Winters as a garbage man dressed in a spotless white uniform and referring, in an upper-class British accent, to gar-BAZH. Carson kidnapped Maude Frickert and simply changed the name to Aunt Blabby, one of his stock characters. Mr. Winters said that the blatant theft did not bother him.
Mr. Winters often called himself a satirist, but the term does not really apply. In “Seriously Funny,” his history of 1950s and 1960s comedians, Gerald Nachman described him, a bit floridly, as “part circus clown and part social observer, Red Skelton possessed by the spirit of Daumier.”
He was hard to define. “I don’t do jokes,” he once said. “The characters are my jokes.” At the same time, unlike many comedians reacting to the Eisenhower era, he found his source material in human behavior rather than politics or current events, but in him the spectacle of human folly provoked glee rather than righteous anger.
In 1961 Variety wrote, “His humor is more universally acceptable than any of the current New Comics, with the possible exception of Bob Newhart, because he covers the mass experiences of the U.S. common man — the Army, the gas station, the airport.”
Mr. Winters did much of his best work in nightclubs, but he hated life on the road. In 1959 he suffered a nervous breakdown onstage at the hungry i in San Francisco and briefly spent time in a mental hospital. Two years later he suffered another collapse, and soon after that he quit nightclubs for good. From 1960 to 1964 he recorded his most-requested monologues for Verve on a series of albums, notably “The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters,” “Here’s Jonathan” and “Jonathan Winters: Down to Earth.”
The conventional television variety show did not suit Mr. Winters, but film did not seem the right medium for him either. Scripts stifled him. “Jonny works best out of instant panic,” one of his television writers in the 1960s said. He thrived when he could ad-lib, fielding unexpected questions or pursuing spontaneous flights of fancy. In other words, he made a brilliant guest, firing comedy in short bursts, but a problematic host or actor.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Mr. Winters was a frequent guest on “The Andy Williams Show,” “The Tonight Show” and “Hollywood Squares.” He played Robin Williams’s extraterrestrial baby son, Mearth, on the final season of “Mork & Mindy,” and he kept busy with voice-over work in animated television series and films. He also published a book of his cartoons, “Mouse Breath, Conformity and Other Social Ills,” and a collection of whimsical stories, “Winters’ Tales.”
More influential than successful, Mr. Winters circled the comic heavens tracing his own strange orbit, an object of wonder and admiration to his peers. “Jonathan taught me,” Mr. Williams told the correspondent Ed Bradley on “60 Minutes,” “that the world is open for play, that everything and everybody is mockable, in a wonderful way.”
Correction: April 12, 2013
An earlier version of this article misstated the given name of Jonathan Winters’s wife, who died in 2009. In 1948 he married Eileen Schauder, not Elaine. Additionally, a caption in an earlier version of a slide show featuring Mr. Winters incorrectly stated the recipient of an Oscar. Mr. Winters received an Oscar for Peter Ustinov.
MARIA TALLCHIEF, DAZZLING BALLERINA AND MUSE FOR BALANCHINE
Maria Tallchief in the title role in George Balanchine’s ballet “Firebird.” More Photos »
Published: April 12, 2013
- Maria Tallchief, a daughter of an Oklahoma oil family who grew up on an Indian reservation, found her way to New York and became one of the most brilliant American ballerinas of the 20th century, died on Thursday in Chicago. She was 88.
Her daughter, the poet Elise Paschen, confirmed the death. Ms. Tallchief lived in Chicago.
A former wife and muse of the choreographer George Balanchine, Ms. Tallchief achieved renown with Balanchine’s New York City Ballet, dazzling audiences with her speed, energy and fire. Indeed, the part that catapulted her to acclaim, in 1949, was the title role in the company’s version of Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” one of many that Balanchine created for her.
The choreographer Jacques d’Amboise, who was a 15-year-old corps dancer in Balanchine’s “Firebird” before becoming one of City Ballet’s stars, compared Ms. Tallchief to two of the century’s greatest ballerinas: Galina Ulanova of the Soviet Union and Margot Fonteyn of Britain.
“When you thought of Russian ballet, it was Ulanova,” he said an interview on Friday. “With English ballet, it was Fonteyn. For American ballet, it was Tallchief. She was grand in the grandest way.”
A daughter of an Osage Indian father and a Scottish-Irish mother, Ms. Tallchief left Oklahoma at an early age, but she was long associated with the state nevertheless. She was one of five dancers of Indian heritage, all born at roughly the same time, who came to be called the Oklahoma Indian ballerinas: the others included her younger sister, Marjorie Tallchief, as well as Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin and Yvonne Chouteau.
Growing up at a time when many American dancers adopted Russian stage names, Ms. Tallchief, proud of her Indian heritage, refused to do so, even though friends told her that it would be easy to transform Tallchief into Tallchieva.
She was born Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief on Jan. 24, 1925 in a small hospital in Fairfax, Okla. Her father, Alexander Joseph Tall Chief, was a 6-foot-2 full-blooded Osage Indian whom his daughters idolized and women found strikingly handsome, Ms. Tallchief later wrote. (She and her sister joined their surnames when they began dancing professionally.)
Her mother, the former Ruth Porter, met Mr. Tall Chief, a widower, while visiting her sister, who was a cook and housekeeper for Mr. Tall Chief’s mother.
“When Daddy was a boy, oil was discovered on Osage land, and overnight the tribe became rich,” Ms. Tallchief recounted in “Maria Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina,” her 1997 autobiography written with Larry Kaplan. “As a young girl growing up on the Osage reservation in Fairfax, Okla., I felt my father owned the town. He had property everywhere. The local movie theater on Main Street, and the pool hall opposite, belonged to him. Our 10-room, terracotta-brick house stood high on a hill overlooking the reservation.”
She had her first ballet lessons in Colorado Springs, where the family had a summer home. She also studied piano and, blessed with perfect pitch, contemplated becoming a concert pianist.
But dance occupied her attention after the family, feeling confined in Oklahoma, moved to Los Angeles when she was 8. The day they arrived, her mother took her daughters into a drugstore for a snack at the soda fountain. While waiting for their order, Mrs. Tall Chief chatted with a druggist and asked him if he knew of a good dancing teacher. He recommended Ernest Belcher.
As Ms. Tallchief recalled in her memoir, “An anonymous man in an unfamiliar town decided our fate with those few words.”
Mr. Belcher, the father of the television and film star Marge Champion, was an excellent teacher, and Ms. Tallchief soon realized that her training in Oklahoma had been potentially ruinous to her limbs. At 12 she started studies with Bronislava Nijinska, a former choreographer for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, who had opened a studio in Los Angeles.
Nijinska, a formidable pedagogue, gave Ms. Tallchief special encouragement. But she also had classes with other distinguished teachers who passed through Los Angeles. One, Tatiana Riabouchinska, became her chaperon on a trip to New York City, which, since the outbreak of World War II, had become the base of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a leading touring company. She joined the troupe in 1942.Nijinska, one of its choreographers, cast her in some of her ballets. But Ms. Tallchief also danced in Agnes de Mille’s “Rodeo,”a pioneering example of balletic Americana. It was de Mille who suggested that Elizabeth Marie make Maria Tallchief her professional name. Her sister, who survives her, went on to achieve fame mostly in Europe.
ArtsBeat: Remembering Maria Tallchief in Motion(April 12, 2013)
In the summer of 1944, the entire Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo served as the dance ensemble for”Song of Norway,”a Broadway musical based on the life and music of Grieg, with choreography by Balanchine. And Balanchine remained as a resident choreographer for the company, casting Ms. Tallchief in works like “Danses Concertantes,””Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme,””Ballet Imperial” and “Le Baiser de la Fee.”
Balanchine paid increasing attention to Ms. Tallchief, and she became increasingly fond of him, admiring him as a choreographic genius and liking him as a courtly, sophisticated friend. Yet it came as an utter surprise when he asked her to marry him. After careful thought, she agreed, and they were married on Aug. 16, 1946.
It was an unusual marriage. As she wrote in her autobiography: “Passion and romance didn’t play a big part in our married life. We saved our emotions for the classroom.” Yet, she added, “George was a warm, affectionate, loving husband.”
Ms. Tallchief had become a prominent soloist at the Monte Carlo company. But Balanchine wanted a company of his own. In 1946, he and the arts patron Lincoln Kirstein established Ballet Society, which presented a series of subscription performances; it was a direct forerunner of today’s City Ballet.
At the time, Ms. Tallchief was still a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and she remained with it until her contract expired. Then she went to Paris, where Balanchine had agreed to stage productions for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1947. In her autobiography, she speculated that because Balanchine was a Francophile he might have felt tempted to remain in Paris, but that the intrigues riddling the Paris Opera drove him to leave and return to America.
Balanchine then devoted himself to the City Ballet, which gave its first performance under that name on Oct. 11, 1948. Ms. Tallchief was soon acclaimed as one of its stars.
In addition to “Firebird,” Balanchine created many striking roles for her, including those of the Swan Queen in his version of “Swan Lake,” the Sugar Plum Fairy in his version of “The Nutcracker,” Eurydice in”Orpheus”and principal roles in plotless works like “Sylvia Pas de Deux,” “Allegro Brillante,” “Pas de Dix” and “Scotch Symphony.”
After she and Balanchine were divorced in 1950, she remained with City Ballet until 1965. But she also took time off to dance with other companies, and she portrayed Anna Pavlova in”Million Dollar Mermaid,”a 1952 MGM extravaganza starringEsther Williamsas the swimmer and actress Annette Kellerman.
She returned to the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1954-55, receiving a salary of $2,000 a week, reportedly the highest salary paid any dancer at that time. When she appeared with American Ballet Theater, in 1960-62, she showed she could be an exponent of dramatic as well as abstract ballets. She was cast in such varied parts as the neurotic title role of Birgit Cullberg’s”Miss Julie” and Caroline, the melancholy heroine of Antony Tudor’s “Jardin aux Lilas,” who must enter into a marriage of convenience with a man she does not love.
At City Ballet, Ms. Tallchief’s partners included André Eglevsky, Erik Bruhn and Nicholas Magallanes. She appeared withRudolf Nureyevon television and on tour in Europe and made guest appearances with Ruth Page’s Chicago Opera Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet and the Hamburg Ballet. One of her last roles was the title role in Peter van Dyk’s “Cinderella” for the Hamburg company in 1966. She retired from the stage soon afterward.
Then Ms. Tallchief became part of dance life in Chicago. She founded the ballet school of the Lyric Opera there in the mid-1970s and was the artistic director of the Chicago City Ballet, which presented its first season in 1981. More successful as a teacher than as a director, she resigned from the post in 1987.
Among her honors, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1996.
Ms. Tallchief was married to Elmourza Natirboff, an aviator, from 1952 to 1954. In 1956 she married Henry Paschen, who eventually became president of his family’s business, Paschen Contractors, in Chicago.
Besides her daughter, Ms. Paschen, and her sister, her survivors include two grandchildren.
Ms. Tallchief remained closely identified with her Osage lineage long after she found fame and glamour in Paris and New York, and she bridled at the enduring stereotypes and misconceptions many held about American Indians. Recalling her youth in her memoir, she wrote of a dance routine that she and her sister were asked to perform at Oklahoma country fairs, making both of them “self-conscious.”
“It wasn’t remotely authentic,” she wrote. “Traditionally, women didn’t dance in Indian tribal ceremonies. But I had toe shoes on under my moccasins, and we both wore fringed buckskin outfits, headbands with feathers, and bells on our legs. We’d enter from opposite wings, greet each other, and start moving to a tom-tom rhythm.”
The performance ended with Marjorie performing “no-handed back-flip somersaults.”
“In the end,” she added, “we stopped doing the routine because we outgrew the costumes. I was relieved when we put those bells away for good.”
Anna Kisselgoff contributed reporting.
ROBERT G. EDWARDS, CHANGED RULES OF CONCEPTION WITH FIRST ‘TEST TUBE’ BABY’
Robert G. Edwards with the world’s first “test tube baby,” Louise Brown, second from right, in 2008, just before her 30th birthday. With them are her mother, Lesley, and her son, Cameron (not pictured.)
By GINA KOLATA
Published: April 10, 2013
- Robert G. Edwards, who opened a new era in medicine when he joined a colleague in developing in vitro fertilization, enabling millions of infertile couples to bring children into the world and women to have babies even in menopause, died on Wednesday at his home near Cambridge, England. Dr. Edwards, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his breakthrough, was 87.
The University of Cambridge, where he worked for many years, announced his death. Dr. Edwards was known to have dementia and was said to have been unable to appreciate the tribute when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2010.
Working with Dr. Patrick Steptoe, Dr. Edwards essentially changed the rules for how people can come into the world. Conception was now possible outside the body — in a petri dish.
The technique has resulted in the births of five million babies, many in multiple births, according to the International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies, an independent nonprofit group.
Yet, like so many pioneers of science, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Steptoe achieved what they did in the face of a skeptical establishment and choruses of critics, some of whom found the idea of a “test tube baby” morally repugnant. Denied government support, the two men resorted to private financing. And they did their work in virtual seclusion, in a tiny, windowless laboratory at a small, out-of-the-way English hospital outside Manchester.
It was there, after outwitting a crowd of reporters, that they delivered their — and the world’s — first IVF baby, Louise Brown, on July 25, 1978. Her parents, John and Lesley Brown, had tried for nine years to have a child — a period that virtually coincided with Dr. Edwards’s research.
Dr. Edwards first had the idea for in vitro fertilization in the 1950s, and after beginning his research in earnest in the late 1960s, he stayed with it for nine years, through trial and error, disappointment and triumph.
He was a colorful physiologist who courted the press and vigorously debated his critics, and he was unflagging. Several times a week he drove three to four hours from his academic office in Cambridge to pursue the work at Oldham General Hospital (now the Royal Oldham Hospital). It was there that he and Dr. Steptoe finally succeeded in fertilizing an egg, growing it briefly in a petri dish and transferring it to a woman’s uterus to produce a baby.
Dr. Steptoe, who died in 1988, did not receive a share of the Nobel because the prizes are not awarded posthumously.
Dr. Edwards’s motivation — his passion, in fact — was not fame or fortune but rather helping infertile women, said Barry Bavister, a retired reproductive biologist who worked with him. “He believed with all his heart that it was the right thing to do,” Dr. Bavister said.
During the frustrating years before that first IVF birth, Dr. Edwards was undaunted by critics who said he might be creating babies with birth defects — undaunted even by the qualms of some of his own graduate students. One, Martin Johnson, wrote that he and a fellow graduate student, Richard Gardner, “were very unsure about whether what Bob was doing was appropriate, and we didn’t want to get too involved in it.”
Dr. Johnson added that when he saw “bigwigs of the subject” who were “lambasting into Bob” and telling him not to continue, “you had to say: ‘Well, what’s going on here? Can one man be right against this weight of authoritative opinion?’ ”
In 1971, Dr. Edwards’s application for research support from the British government was turned down, in part because a committee reviewing his application thought it would be more prudent to perfect the method in primates before jumping to humans.
Then there was Dr. Edwards’s personality. Committee members wrote that they were uncomfortable with his “tendency to seek publicity in the press, television and so on.”
Finally, the committee thought that the hospital where Dr. Edwards and Dr. Steptoe worked was insufficiently equipped.
The two men obtained private funds and continued their work.
In a paper published a decade ago in Nature Medicine, Dr. Edwards explained that he first got the idea for human IVF when he was a Ph.D. student at Edinburgh University. He was working with mouse embryos and testing hormone preparations that induced female mice to ovulate. Years later, he asked gynecologists if they would give him ovarian tissue that they had removed from patients for other reasons. Dr. Edwards sought to induce the eggs in the tissue to mature. Then he would fertilize them and transfer them to infertile women to produce pregnancies.
“Some gynecologists approached about this project candidly responded that they thought the idea preposterous,” Dr. Edwards wrote. But one, Dr. Molly Rose, who had delivered two of Dr. Edwards’s five daughters, said she would do it.
Central Press/Hulton Archive, via Getty Images
Dr. Edwards, center, with his team in Cambridge in 1969, when he began his IVF research in earnest
The immature eggs, though, would not mature. Dr. Edwards had assumed it took 12 hours for the process; that was what another research group had said. He finally succeeded, he wrote in 1972, when, after “after two disappointing years,” he let the eggs grow for as long as 25 hours. Then, he wrote, “a joy unbounding,” the eggs matured.
What followed, however, was failure after failure to achieve the steps needed for an actual pregnancy.
The first hurdle was trying to get a human egg to be fertilized by human sperm in the lab. Dr. Edwards tried repeatedly for several years, to no avail. Meanwhile, Dr. Bavister, working next door to Dr. Edwards’s lab, had developed a solution to nourish hamster sperm while he fertilized hamster eggs.
“One day,” Dr. Bavister recalled, “Bob said, ‘Barry, why don’t we try your hamster medium with human eggs?’ ” It worked. Dr. Bavister said he could still recall his first glimpse of that fertilized human egg in the microscope. “It was unbelievable, like ‘Eureka!’ ” he said.
The problem, it turned out, was that the solutions Dr. Edwards had been trying were too acidic. The hamster egg solution was slightly less acidic, which allowed sperm to burrow into the egg.
The next step was to get the embryos to start to grow and divide in a petri dish so that they could be transferred to a woman’s uterus.
Many did not develop, and those that did did not survive long. Even after Dr. Edwards and Dr. Steptoe managed to get the eggs to grow to the point where they could be transferred, no pregnancies resulted. They made over 100 attempts, but no woman got pregnant, except one, who had an ectopic pregnancy, with the embryo in her fallopian tube instead of her uterus.
“Most sensible scientists would have given up,” Dr. Bavister said. “But they plugged on and plugged on.”
Dr. Joseph D. Schulman, an American physician who later founded the Genetics and IVF Institute in Fairfax, Va., worked with Dr. Edwards and Dr. Steptoe in 1973 and 1974 and wrote of those frustrating times:
“Although we tried week after week though most of the winter and spring, with one, two or three infertile patients a week, no pregnancy resulted. We extensively debated the causes of failure, of which the informed scientific imagination would provide many.”
Dr. Edwards, “never the most patient of men, was becoming increasingly irritable,” Dr. Schulman wrote.
It is still not clear why it took so long to achieve success, Dr. Schulman said. Dr. Edwards decided that it was a hormone he was giving women to induce ovulation that was making the uterus inhospitable. He elected to do without the drug and rely instead on the one egg that a woman naturally produced each month.
There were only three remaining patients. Dr. Steptoe could not retrieve any eggs from the first two. One woman did not get pregnant. Another had a tubal pregnancy that could not be carried to term. Then he tried his method with Mrs. Brown.
The night Mrs. Brown was to give birth to the world’s first IVF baby, the press descended on the Oldham hospital. Dr. Edwards left the hospital that afternoon and told reporters that nothing was happening yet and that they could go home. He and Dr. Steptoe sneaked in the back entrance that night, and Dr. Steptoe delivered the baby by Caesarean.
It was Dr. Steptoe’s decision to do a Caesarean, Dr. Bavister said, adding, “If the baby was abnormal, they sure did not want the press in the delivery room.” In fact, he said, if the baby had been abnormal, that would have spelled the end of IVF. The method had succeeded only with rabbits at that point, so it was a huge leap of faith for Dr. Edwards and Dr. Steptoe to try it with humans.
But after the birth of Louise Brown, Dr. Edwards was triumphant. He and Dr. Steptoe founded an IVF center, Bourn Hall Clinic, in Cambridge.
The Roman Catholic Church denounced the Nobel committee for awarding Dr. Edwards his prize, arguing that human life should begin only through intercourse and not artificially. The Vatican said Dr. Edwards “bore a moral responsibility for all subsequent developments in assisted reproduction technology and for all abuses made possible by IVF.”
In 2011, Dr. Edwards was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II “for services to human reproductive biology.”
Robert Geoffrey Edwards was born into a working-class family in Batley, Yorkshire, on Sept. 27, 1925. He joined the British military during World War II, then studied biology at the University of Wales in Bangor. He received a Ph.D. in physiology in 1955 from Edinburgh University in Scotland.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth Edwards, along with their 5 daughters and 12 grandchildren, Cambridge said.
Dr. Bavister said the most moving tribute to Dr. Edwards was in a message posted on the Nobel Web site after Dr. Edwards had received the prize. It was from a man who had been born through IVF. “Dr. Edwards, thank you for my life,” it said.
McCANDLISH PHILLIPS, TIMES REPORTER WHO EXPOSED A JEWISH KLANSMAN
McCandlish Phillips in 1966. He left his journalism career in 1973 to spread the Gospel.
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: April 9, 2013
- McCandlish Phillips, a former reporter for The New York Times who wrote one of the most famous articles in the newspaper’s history — exposing the Orthodox Jewish background of a senior Ku Klux Klan official — before forsaking journalism to spread the Gospel, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 85.
The cause was complications of pneumonia, said Jaan Vaino, a friend.
Even in a newsroom that employed Gay Talese, David Halberstam, Richard Reeves and Ada Louise Huxtable, Mr. Phillips, who was with The Times from 1952 to 1973, stood out.
He stood out as a tenacious reporter and a lyrical stylist — an all-too-rare marriage on newspapers then — and in his hands even a routine news article seldom failed to delight.
Consider Mr. Phillips’s 1961 account of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, an annual millstone for the city’s general-assignment reporters:
“The sun was high to their backs and the wind was fast in their faces and 100,000 sons and daughters of Ireland, and those who would hold with them, matched strides with their shadows for 52 blocks. It seemed they marched from Midtown to exhaustion.”
In his 2003 memoir, “City Room,” Arthur Gelb, a former managing editor of The Times, called Mr. Phillips “the most original stylist I’d ever edited.”
Mr. Phillips stood out in other ways. About 6 feet 5 inches tall and not much more than 160 pounds, he was often described as a latter-day Ichabod Crane — “the man of the awkward gait and the graceful phrase,” his editors called him.
An evangelical Christian, he kept a Bible on his desk and led prayer meetings for like-minded colleagues (there were none when he joined the paper, he noted ruefully) in a conference room off the newsroom.
He refrained from smoking, drinking, cursing and gambling, each of which had been refined to a high, exuberant art in the Times newsroom — the last of these to such a degree that at midcentury the newspaper employed two bookmakers-in-residence, nominally on the payroll as news clerks.
Mr. Phillips’s most renowned article appeared on Page 1 on Sunday, Oct. 31, 1965, under the headline “State Klan Leader Hides Secret of Jewish Origin.” It was a rigorously reported profile of Daniel Burros, a 28-year-old Queens man who was the Grand Dragon of the New York State Ku Klux Klan, a chief organizer of the national Klan and a former national secretary of the American Nazi Party.
Mr. Burros, the article went on to document, was also a Jew — a former Hebrew school student who had been bar mitzvahed at 13.
The article remains a case study in a reporter’s perseverance in the face of intimidation. It is also a case study in the severe, unintended consequences that the airing of fiercely guarded truths can have for the guardian: despite threatening to kill Mr. Phillips if the article went to press, Mr. Burros, in the end, killed only himself.
John McCandlish Phillips Jr. was born in Glen Cove, N.Y., on Long Island, on Dec. 4, 1927. His father was a traveling salesman, and young Johnny, as he was known, would attend 13 grammar schools across New York, Ohio and Massachusetts.
After graduating from Brookline High School, near Boston, he forwent college for reporting and editing jobs on small New England papers. From 1950 to 1952 Mr. Phillips served with the Army at Fort Holabird, in Baltimore, and it was there, he said, that he attended the church service at which he was born again.
Mr. Phillips joined The Times as a copy boy in November 1952, later working as a clerk on the city desk and in the Washington bureau. In 1955, he was made a cub reporter and consigned to prove his mettle in the paper’s Brooklyn office, then a dank, decrepit outfit near Police Department headquarters in the borough’s nether regions.
His account of life there, written for Times Talk, the newspaper’s house organ (“It is impossible to tell a plainclothes detective from a mugger here. You just have to wait to see what they do”), so delighted the newspaper’s management that his sentence was commuted to service in the main newsroom.
In October 1965, The Times received a tip about Mr. Burros’s Jewish upbringing. Assigned to pursue it, Mr. Phillips, aided by newsroom colleagues, spent days reconstructing his life, scouring school, military, employment and police records; amassing photographs; and interviewing neighbors and associates.
The one thing they lacked was an interview with Mr. Burros: efforts to reach him had been unsuccessful. Finally, on a return visit to South Ozone Park, the Queens neighborhood in which Mr. Burros lived, Mr. Phillips glimpsed him on the street — “a round, short, sallow young man who looked a little like a small heap of misery,” he would later write in Times Talk.
He approached Mr. Burros, and they went into a luncheonette. The conversation, which ranged over Mr. Burros’s brilliant scholastic record — he had an I.Q. of 154 — and his rise to power in the Klan, was cordial.
Then, nearly 20 minutes into the interview, Mr. Phillips raised the subject of Mr. Burros’s Jewishness.
“If you publish that, I’ll come and get you and I’ll kill you,” Mr. Burros said. “I don’t care what happens to me. I’ll be ruined. This is all I’ve got to live for.”
By the time the two men parted, Mr. Phillips later wrote, Mr. Burros had threatened his life half a dozen times.
Mr. Phillips returned to the newsroom, and The Times arranged for round-the-clock bodyguards. He wrote his article, detailing Mr. Burros’s religious upbringing, his early fascination with far-right ideologies and his advocacy of genocide for Jews and blacks. On the day the article was published, Mr. Burros committed suicide.
The article cemented Mr. Phillips’s reputation as one of the city’s most esteemed reporters. He spent his remaining years at The Times primarily in the paper’s Metropolitan section, where his portfolio included the About New York column.
Mr. Phillips became known in particular for his coverage of the city’s vaunted, vanishing institutions, as in this 1969 article about the closing of the original Lindy’s delicatessen, which began:
“What kind of a day is today? It’s the kind of a day that if you wanted a slice of cheesecake at Lindy’s, you couldn’t get it.”
Near the end of the article, he wrote, with plain-spoken, impeccable logic:
“The locusts stripped the place of menus and ashtrays and other mementos. There were conflicting claimants to possession of the last bagel. As a souvenir, a bagel is not much good. It is perishable and it also lacks proof. Anyone can hold up a bagel and say, ‘This is the last bagel from Lindy’s.’ ”
Mr. Phillips resigned from The Times in late 1973 for a life in religion.
In 1962, he had helped found the New Testament Missionary Fellowship, a Pentecostal congregation in Manhattan. Its tenets, as Ken Auletta wrote in a 1997 New Yorker profile of Mr. Phillips, include the belief that “pornography, drugs, abortion and any form of fornication (including premarital sex and homosexuality) are sins.”
In the early 1970s, the New Testament Missionary Fellowship made headlines after the kidnapping or attempted kidnapping of several of its congregants by their families. The families maintained that the group had trained the congregants to repudiate them.
After leaving The Times, Mr. Phillips lived, in Mr. Auletta’s account, a contented if threadbare existence, preaching the Gospel on the Columbia University campus, near his home, and managing the fellowship’s affairs. The fellowship, which has long since ceased to incur unfavorable notice, is still extant, based in Upper Manhattan.
Mr. Phillips, who never married, is survived by a sister, Janet DeClemente.
He published several books, including “City Notebook” (1974), a collection of his articles from The Times, and “What Every Christian Should Know About the Supernatural” (1988).
Over the years, Mr. Phillips was asked whether he felt responsible for Mr. Burros’s suicide. He felt “a vague sense of sadness,” he said, but no guilt.
His stance — the view from the prospect where his faith and his journalism converged — was encapsulated in a remark he made to Mr. Gelb.
On the afternoon of Oct. 31, 1965, Mr. Gelb phoned Mr. Phillips to tell him, very gently, that Mr. Burros had shot himself.
“What I think we’ve seen here, Arthur,” Mr. Phillips replied, “is the God of Israel acting in judgment.”