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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Famous deaths in Feb 2012

Famous deaths in Feb 2012

Famous deaths in Feb 2012  -  Notable deaths in February, In February we lost many beloved people, including a pop icon, "Grandpa Joe" and "The Kid."  Tom Martinez, Ric Waite, Michael Davis, Dick Anthony Williams, Scroll through to read about these and others who passed away.

Tom Martinez

Tom Martinez, the longtime personal coach to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, has died at 67.

Tom Martinez worked with Brady when he was a teenager growing up in San Mateo, where Martinez coached at College of San Mateo. Their relationship continued during Brady's NFL career.

Brady was equally complimentary, telling reporters before the Super Bowl that Martinez taught him how to throw a football, and he was "forever indebted" to him.

"He's been a great friend of mine for a long time," Brady said, adding that Martinez had been seeking a kidney for some time.
"A lot of people are looking for kidneys or some different type of transplants, but he's very deserving," Brady said. "He's a great man."

A spokesman for the Patriots said early Wednesday that Brady could not immediately be reached for comment. The team posted to Twitter late Tuesday, "Our sincere condolences go out to the Martinez family & all those he mentored throughout his incredible career."

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman also tweeted, "RIP coach Tom Martinez. He was such a great mentor to many in the bay area. His legacy will always live on."

Olivia Martinez told the Daily Journal in an email that Martinez "leaves three children . their spouses . six grandchildren and hundreds of young athletes in the Bay Area and around the country."

Doctors told Martinez last spring that he had months or less to live due to a combination of kidney and heart problems, the Daily Journal reported. His prognosis was, at least temporarily, debunked when specialists discovered that it was his pacemaker that was killing him. The pacemaker was turned off in June and he had been fighting to get stronger while awaiting a kidney transplant.
Martinez was hired at College of San Mateo to coach football and teach physical education but added softball and women's basketball to his coaching load.

His teams won 32 championships. He had 400 career wins in football, a state record 565 wins in basketball and 800 wins in softball over 32 years, the Daily Journal reported.

"He really was the representation of Bulldog athletics," said College of San Mateo athletic director Gary Dilley. "It's great (Martinez) made such a great contribution to Tom Brady, but really the mark he made was in the hearts he trained and coached at CSM."

Ric Waite

Died Feb. 18 (b. 1933)

The films of cinematographer Ric Waite include "Footloose," "48 Hrs.," "Red Dawn" and "The Long Riders."One of the nicest cameramen has passed on, Mr. Ric Waite. Ric was one of the pioneers of the soft light techniques, usually created by bouncing a light into a card, giving a wider spread of the light. This change in the way camermen would light sets was a great comfort to boom operators, because the diffused light made it easier to get the mic closer without any shadows.

As we all age we realize just how fragile this thing called life is. Please take a moment and connect with someone you haven't talked to in a while, you just don't know when it's going to be your last conversation.

Here's a scene from one of my favorite films, "The Long Riders," directed by Walter Hill and shot by Ric Waite. It's the story of the James and Younger gangs, with a brilliant piece of casting. The James brothers were played by Stacey and James Keach, who also produced the film, and the Younger brothers were played by David and Bobby Carradine, and I forget who Randy and Dennis Quaid played.

This scene is the attempted getaway from the bank at Northfield Minnesota, often referred to as the Great Northfield Minnesota Raid. Being a day exterior this clip really doesn't highlight Ric's ability to light a scene, but it's one of the most exciting shootouts ever filmed. Jim Webb and Chris McLaughlin were the sound crew and there is great use of sound effects within the shootout.
Michael Davis

Died Feb. 17 (b. 1943)

Michael Davis was a multi-talented musician who was the bassist for revolutionary MC5.The bass guitarist Michael Davis, who has died of liver failure aged 68, joined Detroit's seminal rock band the MC5 in 1965. He stayed with them during their most challenging and incendiary period, and in later years appeared with a rebuilt version of the group called DKT/MC5, while also studying for a fine arts degree and promoting a music education programme.

Before becoming embroiled in the MC5's tumultuous hard-rock sound, Davis had been more inclined towards folk music. A native of Detroit, he was studying to be a painter at Wayne State University in the city in the early 1960s when he went to hear Bob Dylan play at the Masonic Temple. "He was just playing guitar sitting on a stool all by himself, and it took hold of my life," Davis recalled. "I decided that's what I wanted to do – I wanted to be a musician."

He met the future MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, then still in high school, and they played Beatles songs together. He also got to know the band's vocalist, Rob Tyner, and when their bassist, Pat Burrows, quit, Davis was asked to take his place. At the same time Dennis Thompson came in on drums.

At this early stage the MC5 - short for Motor City 5 – were a covers band, blasting out versions of songs by the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks and the Yardbirds, and Davis would recall this as his favourite period with them. "The sound was just raw and rough and exciting," he said. "Later, when we were trying to be like jazz musicians … I really didn't even like that stuff at all."

Nonetheless, it was the radical, free-form elements that the group began to build into their music that secured their place in history, and they were encouraged to become increasingly radical, both musically and lyrically, by the DJ and jazz critic John Sinclair, who became the MC5's manager in 1967 (though he was far too alternative to use the unhip term "manager").

Kramer and co-guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith were both heavily influenced by the free jazz effusions of Sun Ra, Archie Shepp and Pharoah Sanders, which Sinclair nurtured enthusiastically. He was also connected with radical political groups including the White Panthers and Fifth Estate, and headed the Trans Love Energies organisation, which aimed to promote "an assalt on the culture by any means necessary".

In 1968, MC5 signed to Elektra, who realised that the band's pulverising live shows could not be bettered in the studio, and duly released the live album Kick Out the Jams (1969), recorded at Detroit's Grande Ballroom. Bristling with classics such as the title track and the insurrectionary Motor City Is Burning, the disc charged into the Billboard Hot 100, but the Detroit-based department store chain Hudson's refused to stock the album because of its obscene lyrics. The band responded by taking out newspaper ads saying "Fuck Hudson's", which prompted Elektra to end their contract.

Picked up by Atlantic, they made Back in the USA (1970) with producer Jon Landau, who later managed Bruce Springsteen. It was another powerful batch of songs, though Landau opted for a more conservative sound and the disc lacked the energy of its predecessor. It proved uncommercial too, reaching only 137 in the US. The following year, by which time the band had fallen out with Sinclair, they released their third and last album, High Time. Sales remained feeble, but the group were happy that this time they had had artistic control, which had given them some freedom to experiment.

In February 1972, Davis was ejected from the band during a British tour because of his drug use. As he described it, he was "put out of the car on the highway so that I had to find my way back home and start things over for myself". The MC5 itself lasted only until its farewell gig at the Grande Ballroom on New Year's Eve 1972.

Davis then played with a number of bands, including Ascension with Smith, Destroy All Monsters with Ron Asheton from the Stooges, the LA-based Empty Set, and in the 1990s Rich Hopkins & the Luminarios, based in Tucson, Arizona, where Davis had made his home. The latter made several albums for Germany's Blue Rose label.

Meanwhile Davis had returned to his first love, painting, when he was jailed on a narcotics charge in the late 1970s, and spent time studying art at several colleges in California and the American north-west. His painting White Panther/Big World adorned the sleeve of the 2009 album MC5: The Very Best of MC5, and in 2011 his work appeared in the Punk and Beyond exhibition at the Signal Gallery, London, among exhibits by numerous current and former punk rockers.

Davis also supplied the artwork for the audio/DVD release of the 2008 Royal Festival Hall performance by Primal Scream and the survivors of the MC5. From 2004 onwards, Davis had been performing with Wayne Kramer and Dennis Thompson as DKT/MC5.

In 2006, having survived a serious motorcycle crash in Los Angeles, Davis and his wife Angela launched the non-profit The Music Is Revolution Foundation, to raise funds and awareness to promote the cultural and therapeutic qualities of music in American schools. He is survived by Angela, their three sons and a daughter from a previous marriage.

• Michael Davis, bass guitarist and artist, born 5 June 1943; died 17 February 2012
Dick Anthony Williams

Dick Anthony Williams was a wide-ranging actor, known on Broadway and for portraying an icon. Dick Anthony Williams was one of the few consistently working black film and stage actors during the 1970s. Williams was highly regarded with Tony-nominated performances and a Drama Desk Award. He died February 15, 2012 in Los Angeles at the age of 77.
Mr. Williams, who was born on Aug. 9, 1934, on the South Side of Chicago, spent four years of his childhood in a hospital being treated for polio.
In the early 1970s, Mr. Williams and the director Woodie King Jr. were co-founders of the New Federal Theater, an actors’ workshop open to professionals and amateurs, at minimal cost, at the Henry Street Settlement. The theater became a showcase for playwrights and actors including David Henry Hwang, Ntozake Shange, Amiri Baraka, Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington.
His signature role may have been that of a Detroit pimp, which won Mr. Williams the Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination. It was a cautionary version of the more flamboyant character he portrayed in the blaxploitation movie “The Mack,” starring Max Julien and Richard Pryor, released in 1973.
In the early 1990s he was a regular on the ABC-TV series “Homefront.” He also had roles in many other television shows and in movies including “The Jerk” (as Steve Martin’s brother) and Spike Lee’s “Mo’ Better Blues.”
Mr. Williams is survived by two daughters, Mona and Mikah, and a son, Jason. His wife, the actress Gloria Edwards, died in 1988.
Gary Carter

More than 1,000 former teammates, family members and friends of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter paid tribute to him Friday as much for his prowess on the field as for the type of man he was away from the ballpark.

Though television screens beamed images of Carter emerging from the dugout, embracing teammates in enveloping hugs and sliding into home plate, those who knew him spoke more of his compassion, his devotion to faith and family and his genuine goodness.

"I'm gonna miss that smile, I'm gonna miss every part of Gary Carter because of the way he was," said Johnny Bench, another Hall of Fame catcher. "For those who knew him, no words are necessary. For those who didn't, no words are adequate."Carter died Feb. 16 of brain cancer. He was 57.

Tommy Hutton, who played with Carter on the Montreal Expos, remembered his friend's passion and enthusiasm. His three children drew laughter while talking of their father's obsessive neatness, organizing everything from his locker to the refrigerator. Tom Mullins, a pastor who befriended Carter, spoke of his competitiveness on everything, even over who recovered from knee surgery faster.

"The way he lived his life is the way that everybody wants to live their life," Bert Blyleven, another former player who became friends with Carter, said outside the service at Christ Fellowship Church.

Carter was an 11-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner. His single in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series helped the Mets mount a charge against the Boston Red Sox and eventually beat them.

Carter played nearly two decades with the Mets, Montreal, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He led the Expos to their only playoff berth and was the first player enshrined in Cooperstown wearing an Expos cap.

Players from throughout his career filed in to pay their respects, including Darryl Strawberry and other members of the championship Mets team. Before the nearly two-hour-long service began, footage of Carter projected onto huge screens showed him on the field, at home with his children, being interviewed by David Letterman, and in commercials for products from Ivory soap to 7-Up. Flower arrangements shaped like baseballs and home plates emblazoned with his No. 8 filled the stage, and there were nearby pictures of Carter and his trademark grin.
"All you can do is smile when you hear his name," said Andre Dawson, who played with Carter with the Expos and spoke outside the service.

Over and over, that smile was invoked by the speakers. Some called it electrifying, others infectious, others confident. But they all spoke of it being seared in their memories of a man they loved.

In his final days, Mullins said, Carter no longer could speak. His family and friends drew near. And though words were elusive, he still managed to flash a smile.

Elyse Knox

Elyse Knox, who starred in such B movies as The Mummy's Tomb (1942) and Don Winslow of the Coast Guard (1943), passed on 16 February 2012 at the age of 94. She was mother of actors Mark Harmon, Kristin Harmon, and Kelly Harmon.

Elyse Knox was born Elyse Kornbloth in Hartford, Connecticut on 14 December 1917. In high school she studied oil painting. She continued to paint for the rest of her life. She studied at the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York City. Afterwards she worked as an artist's assistant at a design studio in New York City. It was when a model did not show up that the design studio decided that Miss Knox should stand in for her. It was not long before she appearing in magazines. It was when she appeared as a bride in a newsreel that she attracted the attention of Hollywood.

Elyse Knox made her film debut in an uncredited, bit part in the movie Wake Up and Live (1937). In the late Thirties she appeared in such films as Star Dust (1940), Lillian Russell (1940), and Girl From Avenue A (1940). In the Forties she appeared in such films as Sheriff of Tombstone (1941), Top Sergeant (1942), Arabian Nights (1942), The Mummy's Tomb (1942), Don Winslow of the Coast Guard (1943), Hit the Ice (1943), A Wave, a WAC, & a Marine (1944), Joe Palooka, Champ (1946), Sweetheart of Sigma Chi (1946), Joe Palooka in Fighting Mad (1948), Forgotten Women (1949) , and Joe Palooka in the Counterpunch (1949). It was after There's a Girl in My Heart in 1949 that she decided to retire from acting to concentrate on her family.

Elyse Knox established herself as an impressionist painter.

Elyse Knox was certainly beautiful. And while the roles in the various B movies in which she appeared generally were not very demanding, she was convincing in all of them. It was little wonder then that she was quite successful as a B movie actress. During her career she appeared opposite such leading men as Roy Rogers, Lon Chaney Jr., Abbott and Costello, and Edward Norris. While Miss Knox did not have a particularly long career (a little over a decade), she certainly had a memorable one.

Zelda Kaplan

Zelda Kaplan, the 95-year-old socialite best known for her signature African prints and fierce campaigning for women's rights around the world, died on 15 February following her collapse at a New York fashion week show. She had been sitting in the front row at Joanna Mastroianni's catwalk presentation, and collapsed a few minutes into the show before being pronounced dead at Roosevelt Hospital. While Kaplan's name was well known on the New York social scene and around the African continent, many in Europe may not know much about her. So who was Zelda Kaplan?

Despite her age, Kaplan was a regular fixture of Manhattan nightlife, often spotted dancing until dawn and partying with people under half her age. In June she celebrated her 95th birthday at the Gramercy Park Hotel and in January she was photographed at the opening of the XL nightclub. Kaplan liked to keep up her lively interest in the world around her, whether that involved the city's nightlife, arts and culture on her doorstep, or more serious issues abroad. In an interview with the Daily Intel in 2010, she said her bedtime was "anytime between midnight and 7am".

In a New York Times profile piece about her, Kaplan revealed that Amy Sacco, the owner of New York's (now closed) Bungalow 8 club used to keep the door open for her. "Amy lets me in even when there's a private party" said Kaplan. She became such a well known figure in the city that in 2004 the HBO network made a documentary about her life, entitledsimply: "Her Name is Zelda."

Beyond the nightlife and the style icon status, though, Kaplan had a passion for travel and women's rights. Kaplan rarely talked about her personal life, but it is known she was married twice, the first time for just 11 months and then a second time to a doctor.

Originally from New Jersey, she moved to New York City after divorcing her second husband, and trained as a ballroom dancing instructor before being offered the opportunity to travel to Mali, which ignited her interest in Africa. She travelled around Africa and Southeast Asia, where she attempted to raise awareness of the dangers of genital mutilation, and she stood up for women's rights to inheritance.

Since her death, tributes have poured in from many who knew and loved Kaplan, celebrating her life and unique style. Her collection of show-stopping hats and print dresses, which were made up from the cloth that she brought back from her travels, were her calling card.

Designer Richie Rich, a close friend of Kaplan, told the New York Post: "Passing away in the front row was how it was meant to be. Zelda loves fashion, so she died for fashion. She would have wanted to go out in style. Zelda always said: 'Live, live, live and have fun.' I hope the angels are holding her right now."

Fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone told the New York Times: "She pioneered a trail of fierceness for the rest of us. Her life was the most amazing look book. Every time you would see her, she was pushing the envelope."

Joanna Mastroianni, the designer, released a statement saying: "We are deeply saddened to lose Zelda, such an icon of the fashion community. Zelda has been someone I have known and respected over the years. I truly admired her for her individuality and incredible spirit. She had such a love of life and believed in living every day to its fullest. She will be sorely missed and my heartfelt condolences go to her family."

Russell Arms

Singer-actor Russell Arms, who appeared regularly as a vocalist on NBC musical program "Your Hit Parade" in the 1950s, died Feb. 13 in Hamilton, Ill. He was 92.
Arms and the other regulars on the popular Saturday-night show, which had begun on radio, performed the week's seven most popular songs.

After studying at the Pasadena Playhouse, he began his showbiz career just before WWII when Warner Bros. signed him to a contract. He made his feature debut in "The Man Who Came to Dinner," with Bette Davis and Monty Woolley, and appeared in several war films for the studio before being drafted himself. As part of his military service he made training films for the Army Signal Corps and the Army Air Forces.

After returning to Warners and appearing in a number of Westerns, he transitioned to radio roles. Arms had a relatively sizable supporting role in the 1953 Doris Day film "By the Light of the Silvery Moon."

He exited "Your Hit Parade" in 1958 and subsequently did guest work on TV for decades, appearing on "Have Gun -- Will Travel," "Rawhide," "Perry Mason," "Dragnet," "Marcus Welby, M.D.," "Mod Squad" and "The Paper Chase."

David Kelly

Shocking new details about the death of Dr David Kelly emerged exclusively today on the Alex Jones radio show. Michael Shrimpton, a UK national security lawyer who was a guest on the show, revealed that sources within MI5 and MI6 are `furious' that Kelly was murdered.

Shrimpton spoke in depth about the details of Kelly's murder on 17th July 2003, information which has been withheld by the British press.

With apparent backing from the organisations whose members he claims to speak for, Shrimpton presented their view that Dr Kelly had been murdered by a team of assassins and the charade of an apparent suicide was then played out to cover this up.

Speaking with impeccable credentials, including contributions to the Journal for International Security Affairs and having previously given a closed-doors confidential briefing to the US Senate Intelligence Committee, Shrimpton exploded the much-reported myth that Dr Kelly had taken his own life.

He spoke of the probable method of Kelly's death, the group which most likely carried out the assassination, who arranged it and finally where the responsibility lies. Additionally, he explained the political context and motive for Kelly's murder.

David Kelly went missing on 17th July 2003 and was found dead on 18th July. In the previous days, Kelly had testified before Parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Committee that he was not the source of a BBC story which had accused the Government of making false claims about Iraq's WMD. When Kelly's body was found, the British press quickly reported it as a suicide, though several analysts had their doubts.

On Jones' show, Shrimpton explained how he had learned that David Kelly was the BBC's source before the BBC disclosed this fact. He went on to explain that his source from within the intelligence community knew David Kelly personally, and did not believe that he had committed suicide. After making their own enquiries, says Shrimpton, this source determined that Dr Kelly had not committed suicide, but rather had been assassinated.

Apparently at ease to discuss these explosive disclosures, Shrimpton explained that there was advance knowledge of Kelly's death in Whitehall, but that the deed itself was most likely carried out by the French external security organisation, DGSE. There was no indication that anybody in MI5 or MI6 had been involved. He went further by suggesting that the hit squad itself was composed of Iraqis from the former regime's Mukhabarat intelligence organisation, recruited from Damascus with the help of Syria's own intelligence apparatus. They were apparently then flown into Corsica, seven days prior to the murder. He doubts that any of the hit-squad are still alive.

Officially, Kelly's body was said to have been found in a copse, in a wood, but the forensic tents were set up in the adjacent field, suggesting, says Shrimpton, that the body was found in the field. This has not been explained to his satisfaction.

The incision in Kelly's wrist was probably to conceal the injection of both Dextroprypoxythene, the active ingredient in Co-Proxamol, and Succinylcholine, a muscle relaxant, rather than as evidence of his bleeding to death, as highlighted by a group of six doctors in letters published in the British press. Shrimpton further agreed with the doctors by pointing out that Kelly only had one Co-Proxamol tablet in his body and that this was not sufficient to kill him.

According to Shrimpton, Kelly was murdered because he had been talking to the press and there was a fear of what else he might discuss with journalists. Furthermore, Kelly was due to return to Iraq and may have learned fresh information on that trip which Whitehall could not afford to trust him with.

Shrimpton's appearance on Jones' show gave him the first public opportunity to bring forward his information, since the story has been effectively censored by the British Press, who according to Shrimpton are concerned about losing the pro-Euro Tony Blair as Prime Minister were they to publish details of Kelly's assassination. Blair's departure, he says, could threaten Britain's proposed adoption of the Euro as the national currency.

Whilst this story begins to circulate in the USA, the coverage in the UK may well remain nil, whilst maneuvering behind the scenes attempts to pre-empt Shrimpton's accusation of government-sanctioned murder of one of its own operatives.

Only with public support, and a belief that this information should be widely known, can this information be brought into the wide open and covered by the mainstream media.

John Severin

Famous deaths in Feb 2012: John Severin - The comics artist John Severin, who died earlier this week at the age of 90, was one of the last living, working links to the golden age of pre-Code comic books, as exemplified by Harvey Kurtzman's Mad and the other output from the EC Comics line. Severin was one of the principal artists on Mad and Kurtzman's war comics, Frontline
Combat and Two-Fisted Tales. Early in his career, Severin became renowned for his careful attention to detail, evident especially in his work on those historically minded, tragedy-laced war comics. His style was less broadly cartoonish and more naturalistic than the other major contributors to Mad (Will Elder, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, etc.), but in his work there as well, he adapted his skillful draftsmanship and talent for creating sharply defined characters to the title's humorous scripts.Severin and Kurtzman had a falling out towards the end of their time at EC, and when the Comics Code Authority effectively destroyed EC as a comic book company and Mad went to magazine size, Severin jumped to Atlas Comics a few years before it transformed into Marvel in 1961. While Kurtzman and some of the other mavericks who had worked at EC devoted years of their lives to trying to create another haven for bold, innovative comics, Severin knuckled down and went to work. In the 1960s and 1970s, he did so on such series as Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos, The Incredible Hulk, Conan The Barbarian, and many other Marvel titles.

Increasingly, however, Severin became identified with that most stubbornly durable of all Mad imitators, Cracked magazine. Cracked was happy to assign him as much work per issue as he could deliver—and Severin liked to work. Over the course of a 45-year association with the magazine, he turned out hundreds of pages for them, becoming firmly established as their chief cover artist, as well as illustrator of the movie and TV parodies that were the bread and butter of any Mad clone. He also exercised the chops he'd developed at EC by drawing war and horror stories for Warren Publishing's black-and-white comics magazines Blazing Combat and Creepy.Born in 1921, Severin first sold his drawings to The Hobo News—a monthly paper "of the hoboes, by the hoboes, and for the hoboes"—when he was just 10 years old. After a stint in the Army during World War II, he joined Kurtzman and Will Elder at the Charles William Harvey Studio, doing advertising work and commercial designs. In 1947, he broke into comics when he was hired by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby to work for their Crestwood Publications imprint Prize Comics, where he came to specialize in Western comics. In an obituary post at his blog, Mark Evanier writes, "Jack Kirby used to say that when he had to research some historical costume or weapon for a story, it was just as good to use a John Severin drawing as it was to find a photo of the real thing."

In the past dozen years, Severin had begun to do more comic book work again, after several years of focusing on Cracked. He returned to an industry that had begun to see his steady stream of dependably solid, if unflashy work—which he had produced in almost every genre over the course of more than half a century—as a legendary achievement. The list of projects he worked on in his 80s includes Howard Chaykin's American Century, DC's 2008 reboot of Sergio Aragones' Western hero Bat Lash, and Marvel's notorious 2003 Rawhide Kid miniseries—which, in the name of cheap laughs, outed the classic gunfighter hero as gay. His surviving family includes his sister Marie Severin, another distinguished cartoonist who did time in both the EC and Marvel bullpens. In 2003, John Severin was named to the Will Eisner Award Hall Of Fame.

Whitney Houston

Celebrity gossip websites ran a story last week claiming that Whitney Houston is “broke as a joke.” They even quoted an unnamed (of course) source claiming that Whitney would be homeless if not for the generosity of friends. She called someone to ask for $100, the story goes. If true, that would be quite a fall from financial grace for the singer who signed a $100 million record deal in 2001.

Whitney’s camp quickly denied the rumors and says they are “false and ridiculous“. Her rep points out that she just made a movie called Sparkle, with Jordin Sparks, and she didn’t work for free.

If Whitney is in need of money, she has another source she can pursue. Don’t be surprised to see Whitney Houston foreclose on her step-mother’s home soon.

Why would Whitney Houston do that? She recently claimed victory in the Federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in a sometimes-ugly lawsuit against the woman who married her father. That step-mother, Barbara Houston, had sued Whitney back in 2008. When Whitney’s father, John, died in 2003, Whitney was received one million dollars as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy.

Barbara felt that money was really meant to benefit her. Whitney had lent her father a great deal of money, some of it to buy a house that John lived in with Barbara. When John Houston died, Barbara inherited the house. Because of that particular loan, Whitney owned the mortgage on the house.

Barbara claimed the life insurance money was meant to repay Whitney for that mortgage. When Whitney refused to credit the life insurance money against the mortgage, Barbara sued.

Whitney was not pleased. She counter-sued, pointing out in a public court record that Barbara met her father while she was a “custodial care service worker” (in other words, a “maid”), cleaning his house. Barbara was 40 years younger than Whitney’s dad and starting dating him when he was still married to Whitney’s mother. Whitney also brought up the fact that John and Barbara were married shortly after he divorced Whitney’s mother.

As part of this lawsuit, Whitney also sought a judgment for the mortgage to be repaid, with interest, which totaled about $1.6 million by then.

Barbara and her lawyers brought up several letters, written by various accountants. They argued to the judge that these writings suggested the insurance policy really was meant to repay the mortgage. The problem was that there never was a written agreement between John and Whitney Houston documenting this, and everyone from Whitney’s camp denied they had an agreement. Instead, Whitney pointed out that she lent her father lots of money, and this insurance policy meant to repay other loans, not the mortgage money.

The Judge agreed with Whitney and dismissed the lawsuit, without holding a trial, in late 2010. Barbara filed an appeal. Late last month, the Federal Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal and upheld Whitney’s victory.  This ruling clears the way for Whitney to proceed with foreclosing on the house.

Given the obvious disdain Whitney has for Barbara Houston, as made evident in the lawsuit, the foreclosure will likely follow, paving the way for Whitney to own the house and kick Barbara to the curb.

At least this would give Whitney someplace to live, if those “broke as a joke” rumors are true.

Yes, this family feud turned ugly. It’s not uncommon when someone dies with a newer spouse and adult children from a prior relationship. In these families, the proper legal planning is more important than ever.

Clearly, John Houston intended the life insurance money to repay Whitney for money she lent him. But what money? No one knows for certain … although it’s interesting that one of Whitney’s accountants actually credited the life insurance money against the mortgage after John died, before later reversing the credit. Other writings supported Barbara’s claim that this was what John intended all along. But none of those writings were signed by John or Whitney, so the confusion remained.

The best way for most people to prevent confusion like this from sparking family fights after someone dies is good estate planning, including a will and trust that clearly and completely document the person’s wishes. Life insurance goes hand in hand with this planning, and beneficiary designations should be coordinated with the estate planning documents. Without proper estate planning making the intentions clear, court fights in second-marriage families are to be expected.

Don’t let this happen to your loved ones, or to your clients! Encourage them to work with experienced estate planning professionals and put the right legal planning in place, before it is too late.

Patricia Stephens Due

Famous deaths in Feb 2012: Patricia Stephens Due - Patricia Stephens Due has been a lifelong civil rights activist. For over forty years she has been steadfast in her commitment to the modern civil rights movement and in teaching younger generations about the history of the Black freedom struggles during the second half of the 20th century. Due was the leading force in the nation's first "Jail-In", as a college student at Florida A&M University in 1960, she chose a jail cell rather than paying a fine for sitting at the "Whites Only" lunch counter at a Woolworths store in Tallahassee, Florida.

Due was born in 1939 in Quincy, Florida to Lottie Mae Powell Stephens and Horace Walter Stephens. She was a middle child of three. Her sister Priscilla was born in 1937 and her brother Walter in 1941. Her childhood years were spent in an area of Quincy called St. Hebron (a rural family community) and in Miami and Belle Glade in southern Florida. At age 13, she and her sister defied segregationist laws in Quincy when they stood in the line at a Dairy Queen marked WHITE ONLY, ignoring the COLORED WINDOW. Due graduated from high school in Belle Glade and entered Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee in the fall of 1957.

During the summer of 1959, Due and her sister attended an interracial workshop on non-violent civil disobedience sponsored by CORE – The Congress of Racial Equality. After that, she organized FAMU students and led her sister and five others in a lunch counter sit-in. Thus began Due's life-long commitment to the civil and human rights struggles of black Americans.

In 1963, Patricia Stephens married FAMU law student, John D. Due, Jr., a prominent civil rights attorney. In 1964, Due was selected by CORE to serve as Field Secretary for the organization's first voter education and registration project in North Florida. Due's North Florida CORE Project registered more Blacks than any other region of the South.

Due continued to be involved with protest marches and boycotts after her successful voting rights work. Although, she was suspended several times from FAMU for her activism, her speaking and fund-raising tours also interfered with her studies. Due did not receive her degree until 1967.

Due's dedication to the Civil Rights Movement has inspired a generation of young Black and White students to make extraordinary sacrifices to secure the rights protected in the Constitution for all Americans. Over the years, Due has given lectures, presentations, enactments and workshops on civil rights history to thousands of high school and college students, parents, teachers and to church and civic groups across the country.

Due co-authored with her daughter Tananarive Due, Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights (ONE World/Ballantine, 2003). The book, too, is both a detailed history of the 1960's civil rights activism in Tallahassee and across Florida, and a personal, intimate and painful look at the sacrifices and consequences to one family who gave their lives to the Civil Rights Movement and progress. Due and her daughter chronicle the price of activism both on their family and on the families of other civil rights activists they knew and worked with.

FAMU awarded Due an honorary doctorate degree. She is also the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Outstanding Leadership, the Ghandi Award for Outstanding Work in Human Relations from FAMU and NAACP Florida Freedom Award.

She and her husband live in Quincy, Florida. They have raised three daughters: Tananarive Due, a prize winning novelist, Johnita Due Willoughby and Lydia Due Greisz, both attorneys-at-law.

Patricia Stephens Due passed away on Feburary 7, 2012.

Janice Voss

Famous deaths in Feb 2012: Janice Voss - NASA astronaut Janice Voss passed away Feb. 6, 2012, after a courageous battle with cancer. One of only six women who have flown in space five times, Voss’ career was highlighted by her work and dedication to scientific payloads and exploration. She was 55.

Voss spent the majority of her career at NASA in the astronaut program. However, from 2004 to 2007, Voss served as the science office director for the Kepler mission at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

In her role, Voss was responsible for coordinating science activities for the Kepler mission. In particular, Voss was responsible for coordinating the efforts to generate the Kepler target catalog, an extensive pre-launch ground survey of the space telescope's field-of-view for stars similar to the sun.

Voss also helped establish the original guest observer office and in the planning of the follow-up observation program for the mission.

"Janice had tremendous passion about her work and her personal interests," said Marcie Smith, Kepler mission director at Ames. "She always thoroughly researched the task at hand to arrive at the best logical decision. She loved to encourage interest in Kepler and the manned space program with public talks and lectures."

Voss will be remembered for the team spirit she brought from her days in the Astronaut Office. One such instance was a suggestion that the Kepler managers buy ribbons to distribute among the team in appreciation of individual contributions. These ribbons can be seen pinned to the walls of the Kepler team members today in recognition of their work.

"Whenever anyone mentioned a science fiction story, Janice would pull out a small notebook that she carried to see if she had already read the story," recalls Kepler principal investigator William Borucki at Ames. "If she hadn't read the story, it would quickly be added to her list to read."

Voss began her career with NASA in 1973 while a student at Purdue University. After completing her doctorate in 1987, she worked within the aerospace industry until she was selected as an astronaut in 1990.

Voss’ first spaceflight mission was STS-57 in 1993, followed by STS-63 in 1995 and STS-83 and STS-94, both in 1997. Her last mission was STS-99 in 2000. In total, Voss spent more than 49 days in space, traveling 18.8 million miles in 779 Earth orbits.

PERSONAL DATA: Born October 8, 1956, in South Bend, Indiana, but considers Rockford, Illinois, to be her hometown. She enjoys reading science fiction, dancing, volleyball, flying. Her parents, Dr. & Mrs. James R. Voss, reside in Dupont, Indiana.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Minnechaug Regional High School, Wilbraham, Massachusetts, in 1972; received a bachelor of science degree in engineering science from Purdue University in 1975, a master of science degree in electrical engineering and a doctorate in aeronautics/astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977 and 1987, respectively. From 1973 to 1975 she took correspondence courses at the University of Oklahoma. She also did some graduate work in space physics at Rice University in 1977 and 1978.

ORGANIZATIONS: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

SPECIAL HONORS: NASA Space Flight Medals (1993, 1995, 1997, 2000); Zonta Amelia Earhart Fellowship (1982); Howard Hughes Fellowship (1981); National Science Foundation Fellowship (1976).

EXPERIENCE: Dr. Voss was a co-op at the NASA Johnson Space Center from 1973 to 1975. During that time she did computer simulations in the Engineering and Development Directorate. In 1977 she returned to the Johnson Space Center and, for a year, worked as a crew trainer, teaching entry guidance and navigation. She completed her doctorate in 1987 and accepted a job with Orbital Sciences Corporation. Her responsibilities there included mission integration and flight operations support for an upper stage called the Transfer Orbit Stage (TOS). TOS launched the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) from the Space Shuttle in September 1993, and the Mars Observer from a Titan in the Fall of 1992.

Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Voss became an astronaut in July 1991. She is qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. Her technical assignments have included working Spacelab/Spacehab issues for the Astronaut Office Mission Development Branch, and robotics issues for the Robotics Branch. From October 2004 to November 2007 she was assigned to the NASA Ames Research Center, where she served as the Science Director for the Kepler spacecraft. Kepler is scheduled to launch on a Delta II into a heliocentric, earth-trailing orbit, and will be looking for Earth-size planets around distant stars. More information can be found at http://www.kepler.nasa.gov. Dr. Voss currently serves as Payloads Lead of the Astronaut Office Station Branch.

A veteran of five space flights, Dr. Voss has logged over 49 days in space, traveling 18.8 million miles in 779 Earth orbits. She served aboard STS-57 in 1993, STS-63 in 1995, STS-83 & STS-94 in 1997, and STS-99 in 2000.

SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: Dr. Voss first flew on STS-57 (June 21 to July 1, 1993). Mission highlights included retrieval of the European Retrievable Carrier (EURECA) with the Shuttle’s robotic arm, a spacewalk, and the first flight of the Spacehab module. She next flew on STS-63 (February 3-11, 1995). Mission highlights included the rendezvous with the Russian Space Station, Mir, the deployment and retrieval of Spartan 204, and the third flight of Spacehab. She also flew as payload commander on STS-83 (Apr 4-8, 1997). The STS-83 Microgravity Science Laboratory ( MSL-1) Spacelab mission was cut short because of problems with one of the Shuttle’s three fuel cell power generation units. The entire crew and payload reflew on STS-94 (July 1-17, 1997). The STS-94 MSL-1 Spacelab mission focused on materials and combustion science research in microgravity. Most recently she served on STS-99 (February 11-22, 2000). This was an 11-day flight during which the international crew aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour worked dual shifts to support radar mapping operations. The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission mapped more than 47 million square miles of the Earth’s land surface.

APRIL 2008

Florence Green

Florence Green, who has died aged 110, was the last veteran of the First World War, though she saw no action. Instead she served with the embryonic Royal Air Force at a base which, like many military establishments, was suffering severe personnel shortages following the astonishing casualty rate on the front line and the introduction of conscription in 1916.
Florence Patterson, as she was then, was one of those who stepped in to fill the breach, volunteering for the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF). Though it was created just months before the end of the war, the WRAF counted 25,000 women in its ranks by the end of the conflict.
Florence Beatrice Patterson was born on February 19 1901 to Frederick and Sarah Patterson. Her early years were spent at Edmonton, north London, but she lived for most of her life at King’s Lynn, Norfolk.
She was 17 when, on September 13 1918, just two months before the Armistice, she began work at the East Anglian aerodrome of Narborough (later called Marham, and today the home of a large force of RAF Tornado bomber aircraft). Her duties largely involved waitressing at the officers’ mess, and she remained until July 18 1919, when she was demobilised. Her personal character was described as “very good”.
The aerodrome at Narborough had been opened in August 1915 and was initially home to a number of squadrons, some involved in night operations against Zeppelins. At the time that Florence arrived, ancient biplanes were being used to train pilots and observers who were later transferred to squadrons in France. The aerodrome closed in 1919, but was reopened before the Second World War.
Florence’s story came to light in 2009, after a local newspaper story about her great longevity. The article was spotted by Andrew Holmes, a British researcher who tracks and verifies reports of so-called “supercentenarians” – people who live well beyond 100. He tracked down her service record at the National Archives, and she was subsequently recognised as a veteran of the war. At that time there were thought to be three other surviving veterans; she outlived them all.
To celebrate her 110th birthday, last February, the catering staff at RAF Marham baked her a special cake which was presented to her by officers who had travelled to see her at her daughter’s home in Kings Lynn.
Even at her great age she had detailed memories of her time in uniform: “I had the opportunity to go up in one of the planes, but I was scared of flying. I would work every hour that God sent. I had dozens of friends on the base and we had a great deal of fun in our spare time.”
A year after leaving the WRAF, Florence married Walter Green, a railway porter; they were married for 50 years before Walter died. They had two daughters and a son.

Ben Gazzara

Few screen debuts have equalled the searing malevolence of Ben Gazzara's Iago-inspired Jocko De Paris in The Strange One (1957). The role, which he had created on stage, became forever associated with this intense graduate of New York's method school of acting.

Gazzara, who has died aged 81 of pancreatic cancer, continued his stage career in modern classics including Epitaph for George Dillon and as the humiliated and vengeful George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He also achieved popular acclaim through television series – notably Run for Your Life (1965-68) – and in movies for his friend John Cassavetes and other directors including Otto Preminger, Peter Bogdanovich, David Mamet, Todd Solondz and the Coen brothers.

Gazzara was born to Sicilian immigrants and grew up on Manhattan's lower east side. He began acting at the Madison Square Boys Club and made a teenage debut in a TV dramatisation of a short play by Tennessee Williams. After gaining a scholarship to Erwin Piscator's drama workshop, he eventually moved to the equally legendary Actors Studio headed by Lee Strasberg.

His stage debut came in Pennsylvania and then on tour, in Jezebel's Husband, but his career took off when – aged 23 – he created Jocko in Calder Willingham's adaptation of his own novel End As a Man. When a revised version of the play transferred to the Vanderbilt theatre in 1953, giving Gazzara his Broadway debut, he received the New York critics' award as most promising young actor.

Its director, Jack Garfein, an assistant to Elia Kazan, took four years to get the movie version financed, and in the interim Gazzara gained more Broadway experience as the original Brick in Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and as the drug-addicted Johnny in A Hatful of Rain, where his darkly handsome features and forceful acting were distinct assets.

Although The Strange One looked overly theatrical, Gazzara's pared-down performance survived the lumpen direction, revealing a natural screen presence. The sombre work about a duplicitous cadet leader, who manipulates an army camp in the deep south, was not a popular success and Gazzara returned to the stage until cast as the equally venal, though more enigmatic, soldier Lieutenant Manion in Preminger's courtroom masterpiece Anatomy of a Murder (1959).

These movies were hard acts to follow and Gazzara, who spoke Italian before he learned English, returned to his roots to star opposite Anna Magnani in The Passionate Thief (1960). It was the start of a lifetime affair with Italy, where he was to work and live for many months each year and where he eventually bought a villa in Umbria.

The following year Gazzara married Janice Rule – having divorced his first wife, Louise Erickson, in 1957 – and took the role of the idealistic pathologist in The Young Doctors. He then co-starred opposite David Niven in The Captive City, a lacklustre war movie set in Athens. A challenging role as the convicted murderer turned painter John Resko better reflected Gazzara's ambitions, but Convicts Four was not a hit and he moved into television, first as the detective in Arrest and Trial and then as the dying Paul Bryan in Run for Your Life.

Filming in Czechoslovakia of the second world war story of The Bridge at Remagen was overtaken by the real-life Soviet invasion of August 1968. An escaping waitress hid behind the legs of Gazzara and Robert Vaughn as she crouched on the floor of their car when it crossed the border.

Gazzara was one of several stars coaxed into a cameo role in If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969). Fortuitously, another was Cassavetes and, after working on the liberal documentary King: A Filmed Record ... Montgomery to Memphis, Gazzara joined Peter Falk and Cassavetes as the eponymous Husbands (also 1970) in the latter's improvised study of marital discord.

Gazzara played the murderous stripclub owner Cosmo Vitelli in Cassavetes's edgy thriller The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), and a year later Manny Victor in the director's masterpiece, Opening Night. After Cassavetes's untimely death in 1989, Gazzara appeared in several documentaries about his friend, notably Anything for John (1993), which reflected the admiration felt by his peers for that maverick film-maker.

Gazzara had established a willingness to work outside the commercial mainstream, specialising in anti-social characters including a plumply brutish Al Capone in Capone (1975), but his career wavered between quality and dross, film and television, and work in the US, Italy and a few other countries, notching up more than 80 movies in the years following his initial collaboration with Cassavetes.

These included the free-spirited Saint Jack (1979) in Peter Bogdanovich's elegant rendition of Paul Theroux's novel and – two years later, also for Bogdanovich – a co-starring role opposite Audrey Hepburn in They All Laughed, an underrated but commercially disastrous variation on love's roundabout.

Following a second divorce, Gazzara worked for a decade in Italy, returning to the US only for lucrative TV movies, including A Question of Honour (1982), A Letter to Three Wives and the Aids drama An Early Frost (both 1985), as well as the film Road House (1989).

In Europe he portrayed the disillusioned poet Charles Bukowski in Tales of Ordinary Madness (1981), was a professor in Il Camorrista (1985) and a less amiable don in Don Bosco (1988). Although he had directed episodes of Columbo for Falk, he graduated to the big screen only in 1990 with the little-seen Beyond the Ocean, shot in Bali.

Soon after that Italian-financed movie he again concentrated on work in America, averaging five films or TV movies each year, while dividing his time between homes in Umbria, New York City and Sag Harbor, New York state. Highlights of this busy period included Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner (1997), where he played the mysterious Mr Klein; cult success Buffalo 66; the black comedy The Big Lebowski; and the controversial Happiness (all 1998). He was well cast as a gang leader in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam and moved to the other side of the fence as a smooth lawyer in the glossy The Thomas Crown Affair (both 1999).

Dozens of other films were routine and he freely admitted that "these days I turn nothing down in order to maintain a comfortable and happy life with my third and last wife". He had married the German-born Elke Krivat in 1982.

Despite debilitating treatment for throat cancer, in 1999 he published an autobiography and worked steadily for the next decade, notching up more than 30 credits, from television series to leading roles in features, many made in Europe, often in his beloved Italy. There he worked in TV, was on location in Calabria for Secret Heart (2003), in Umbria for a brilliant cameo in Christopher Roth (2010) and moved to Spain for Schubert (2005) and to Belgium for Chez Gino (2011). In 2008 he took the name role in Looking for Palladin, about a former Hollywood star who hides from fame in Guatemala.

He enjoyed his role as the Vatican's banker in Holy Money (2009), but most rewarding of the many films were a short, Eve (2008), cleverly directed by Natalie Portman, with Lauren Bacall, and the two films with Gena Rowlands, echoing their Cassavetes days. He took a supporting cameo to her lead in the superior television movie Hysterical Blindness (2002), and four years later they played a two-hander as part of the portmanteau film Paris, Je t'aime, in a bittersweet episode where, as in later works, a recent stroke had affected his speech, though never his courage or professionalism.

Gazzara is survived by Elke; his daughter, Elizabeth, from his second marriage; and his brother, Anthony.

• Ben Gazzara (Biagio Anthony Gazzara), actor, born 28 August 1930; died 3 February 2012

Zalman King

Zalman King's stylish erotica includes the TV-friendly Red Shoe Diaries, introduced by a pre-X-Files David Duchovny, and 91/2 Weeks but he began his career as a dramatic actor and continued to make occasional forays into non-erotic cinema. Zalman Lefkowitz changed his name when he began acting, starting as a gang member in Harland Ellison's autobiographical "Memo from Purgatory" (1964), an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Other one-off roles ranged from "Man with the beard" in a 1965 episode of The Munsters to the lead in "Muley", a 1967 episode of Gunsmoke, one of several different characters he played in the series. From 1969-71 he played Aaron Silverman in The Young Lawyers, about a Boston law firm that works for poor citizens, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.

From then on, King often starred, though never in a major feature. Lo B'Yom V'Lo B'Layla ["Neither By Day Nor By Night", 1972) despite its Hebrew title, was made in English. King plays an American in the Israeli army who is wounded and shares a hospital room with a blind woman who mistakes him for her long-lost lover, while he, increasingly embittered, rejects his father (Edward G Robinson). Some Call It Loving (1973) is an updated Sleeping Beauty, and Trip with the Teacher (1975) a basic exploitationer, while The Passover Plot (1976) is a ludicrous conspiracy thriller showing Jesus faking his own death to kick-start Christianity.

A change came when King wrote and produced 91/2 Weeks (1986), though it was directed by the 1980s style-merchant Adrian Lyne. Starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger, its food-sex-in-the-fridge scene was frequently parodied. It was also nominated for a Razzie for Worst Screenplay, though it stood little chance against the winner, Howard: a New Breed of Hero.

Nevertheless he had found his forte, and moved into projects featuring lubricious young actresses in barely credible stories that necessitated regular disrobing. The business became a family affair, with King's wife and two daughters working behind the scenes.

Two Moon Junction (1988) follows a Southern debutante slumming with a drifter, and gained another Razzie nomination. Wild Orchids (1989), starring Rourke and Jacqueline Bissett, is little more than a disconnected series of erotic encounters. In true exploitation style, Wild Orchids 2: Two Shades of Blue (1991) traded on the name while having nothing whatsoever to do with the original.

King perfected the form in Red Shoes Diaries, eight plot-light TV series (1992-97), several direct-to-video features and a TV movie. Duchovny introduced each episode as a man whose fiancée committed suicide and who hopes to learn why through a personal ad asking women to write to him about their erotic experiences. It featured a surprising number of more or less serious actors: Bond girl Maryam d'Abo, The Breakfast Club's Ally Sheedy, Matt LeBlanc, later of Friends, stand-up Margaret Cho, alternative film stalwart Udo Kier, and model-turned-actress Joan Severance, while Sheryl Lee sandwiched her appearance between the television and cinema incarnations of David Lynch's Twin Peaks. It also supplied a pool of talent for his feature films. But neither ChromiumBlue.com nor Body Language could replicate its success.

Lake Consequence (1993), starring Billy Zane and Severance, showed that sexual repression can be overcome by infidelity and al fresco ménages-a-trois. In 1995 King found inspiration in the erotic diaries of Anaïs Nin and based Delta of Venus on selected episodes.

There was a different side to King: he produced two of Alan Rudolph's lesser films: Roadie (1980), a musical sex comedy starring Meat Loaf, and Endangered Species (1982) a sci-fi about mysterious cattle mutilation. Perhaps the ubiquity of harder sex on the internet took the rug from under King's gentle, almost romantic style. Female Perversions (1996), starring Tilda Swinton, apparently has ambitions as a feminist statement, albeit about a kleptomaniac and a lesbian and displaying the requisite acreage of flesh.

A friend of the Nouvelle Vague director Agnes Varda, he appeared in her autobiographical The Beaches of Agnes (2008); Crazy Again (2006) is a documentary about the mental health problems suffered by the country and western star Dale Watson.

Don Cornelius

“Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius was found dead in his Los Angeles home early Wednesday morning. He was pronounced dead after the Los Angeles Fire Department transferred him to a nearby hospital, Officer Sara Faden of the Los Angeles Police Department told The Washington Post. Cornelius was 75. The cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound said Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter. Cornelius launched “Soul Train” in Chicago in 1970 and it quickly became a seminal part of black culture, featuring the hottest music, fashion and dancing. He hosted the show until 1993 and in addition to his mellifluous voice and of-the-moment style, he became known for his signature sign-off: "I'm Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soooooouuuuullllllll."

Washingtonians reacted to his death with sadness and surprise.

Nizam Ali, 41, son of Ben Ali, founder of Ben’s Chilli Bowl, was making change for the breakfast crew when he got a CNN alert that Cornelius was dead. “My immediate reaction was just kind of disbelief, hearing he was gone. Then I just had instant memories,” Ali says. Soul Train had such an “impact on all African Americans really, of our generation. We’d watch and catch up on the latest dance moves. [Cornelius] was probably one of the coolest guys on television. He had that rich deep voice. It was never flamboyant, never egotistical.”
WHUR-FM radio personality Triscina Grey got a call from her husband as she was preparing for her 10 a.m. show, and choked up as she thought about Cornelius and everything he meant to black America and to her personally. “He’s so visible in my mind. It’s just that deep voice, that perfect afro, and he was always so cool and suave and unflappable. ‘Soul Train’ was such a significant part of my development, Grey said. “It was a a Saturday thing, either you did the housecleaning before or after but you know you had to be there in front of that television.

Angelo Dundee

Trainer of 15 world boxing champions, including 'the greatest', Muhammad Ali, Although he trained 15 world boxing champions, Angelo Dundee will for ever be linked with Muhammad Ali, the self-styled "greatest" who is widely recognised as the finest heavyweight boxer of all time. From Ali's second professional fight in 1960 through to his 61st and final fight, in 1981, Dundee, who has died aged 90, was a constant presence in the corner as chief trainer.

He was hired by the syndicate of businessmen who backed Ali when the boxer – then known as Cassius Clay – turned professional after winning a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics. The relationship never faltered, even when Ali announced to the world that he was following the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam. As Ali wrote in a foreword for Dundee's autobiography, My View from the Corner: A Life in Boxing (2007): "Elijah Muhammad told us the white man was the devil, and I believed him. Angelo Dundee paid no attention to that talk. He never said I was wrong, he never asked why I joined the Muslims, he never said anything about it."

Ali created a furore when he refused to be drafted into the forces fighting in Vietnam because of his religious beliefs. He was subsequently stripped of the world heavyweight title, but his bond with Dundee endured. "Through all those days of controversy, Angelo never got involved. He let me be exactly who I wanted to be and he was loyal. That is the reason I love Angelo."

Dundee's training acumen had been respected by Ali from his amateur days, when he was an admirer of one of Dundee's fighters, Willie Pastrano, who went on to win the world light heavyweight title in 1963. Dundee recalled that when Pastrano was fighting in Ali's home town of Louisville, Kentucky, the teenage Ali went to the hotel where they were staying and asked if he could meet them. Dundee agreed to give him five minutes, and the youngster stayed for three and a half hours, grilling him on every aspect of training and fight strategy.

"Training fighters is like trying to catch fish," Dundee once said. "It's not the strength, it's the technique. You've got to play the fish nice and easy, and go with what's there." It was a mantra that served him well with the list of distinguished fighters he trained, including George Foreman, who became the oldest ever heavyweight champion when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994; his first world champion, Carmen Basilio, who took the welterweight title in 1955; the brilliant Cuban-born Mexican world welterweight champion José Nápoles; and the multiweight world champion Sugar Ray Leonard.

Born Angelo Mirena in the Italian neighbourhood on the south side of Philadelphia, he was the eighth of nine children. One of his brothers had adopted the surname Dundee when he began boxing, so that his disapproving parents would not find out, and Dundee was also the name used by another of Angelo's brothers, Chris, a boxing manager and promoter.

Angelo trained as an aircraft maintenance inspector, a job he held during service in the second world war. Obsessed with boxing, he spent time in the Stillman's gym in New York, where he learned from trainers such as Ray Arcel (whose list of champions included Jack "Kid" Berg and James Braddock) and Charlie Goldman (who trained Rocky Marciano).

When his brother Chris moved to Florida, Angelo got his big break, training fighters who appeared in Chris's shows and working at the Fifth Street gym that Chris had opened in Miami. He began training Pastrano in 1952, shortly after Angelo married Helen Bolton, a model who towered over him. Although briefly paid a retainer by Chris, he was soon made aware that he was expected to hustle for his livelihood, taking a trainer's percentage from the fighters with whom he worked.

In later years, when he became a popular interviewee about his great years, Dundee would mischievously recall how he was forced to share a hotel room with Pastrano, principally to attempt to keep his fighter from pursuing and bedding almost any compliant woman he encountered. "When you use the word 'trainer', it's a word that means you got to help your fighter not only in the ring but in a lot of other things as well," he said. "It's more than just working the corner or wrapping his hands. You have to be like a mentor for everything." He insisted that his fighters be polite to anyone who approached them, and once told Foreman not to chew gum when he was interviewed.

With Ali and Leonard, Dundee played a key role in some of the greatest fights in boxing history. The story that he loosened the stitching of Ali's gloves, to buy time between rounds when he was floored by Henry Cooper at Wembley in 1963, was embellished over the years by both Dundee and Cooper. Not a shouter or a screamer, Dundee rarely swore, but used his calm authority to keep Ali focused in his great battles with Joe Frazier, Foreman and others, although after Ali knocked out Foreman to regain the world title in 1974, the latter accused Dundee of loosening the ropes for Ali's rope-a-dope tactics (leaning against the ropes, and allowing an opponent's punches, to tire him).

When Leonard fought Thomas Hearns in their first epic meeting, in 1981, Dundee rightly sensed that Leonard was losing. Before the bell for the 13th round, he famously told him: "You're blowing it, son." His fighter responded by raising his game, halting Hearns in the 14th. "Ray was beautiful," Dundee said. "He had so much talent and that made it a joy. Let's face it, you're only as good as the guy on the stool. He is the one that is putting it out, but I had a great time with Ray Leonard. We grew together from the Hearns fight through to the Marvin Hagler fight." Leonard beat the formidable Hagler in 1987 to win the world middleweight title with an astute performance, brilliantly employing tactics he had devised with Dundee.

Into his 80s, Dundee remained a well-respected, articulate and sought-after figure. He trained Russell Crowe for his role as Braddock in the film Cinderella Man (2005), and was employed by Oscar De La Hoya as a consultant for his fight against Manny Pacquiao in 2008.

Helen died in 2010. Dundee is survived by his son, James, his daughter, Terri, six grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

• Angelo Dundee (Angelo Mirena), boxing trainer, born 30 August 1921; died 1 February 2012

Mike Kelley

It is with great sadness and regret that we announce the untimely death of Mike Kelley.

An unorthodox role-model, Kelley was widely acknowledged to be one of the most influential American artists of our time. He was loved and admired by his peers and was a touchstone for a younger generation of artists.

We’re living in the post-modern age, the death of the avant-garde. So all I can really do now is work with this dominant culture and flay it, rip it apart, reconfigure it, expose it.
—Mike Kelley

Kelley’s aesthetic mined the rich and often overlooked history of vernacular art in America and he embraced the confrontational, political attitude of punk, attacking cultural attitudes toward family, religion, sexuality, class, art and education. He produced a vast and provocative repertoire that included symbolic and ritualistic performance pieces, stuffed-animal sculptures, paintings, wall-size drawings, ambitious installations that reconstructed institutional environments and restaged historical events; and extended multi-media collaborations with Paul McCarthy, Tony Oursler, Sonic Youth, Destroy All Monsters and others. An original and deeply insightful writer and curator, Kelley wrote for art and music journals and organized museum exhibitions such as “The Uncanny” (1993/2004), which incorporated his own work and that of other artists with non-art objects that explored nostalgia, the grotesque, and the unsettling. Kelley’s most recent exhibition at Gagosian Gallery was “Exploded Fortress of Solitude” in London in 2011, which followed related large-scale exhibitions in Los Angeles and New York, beginning with the epic video installation “Day is Done” in 2005. A major retrospective exhibition is being planned for the reopening of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, later this year, which will travel to the MOCA, Los Angeles in 2014.

One of his longest standing champions, MOCA Chief Curator Paul Schimmel comments, "Mike was an intellectual force of nature, the catalyst for a generation of artists with his performances, installations, sculptures, videos, writings and curatorial work. I think he is arguably one of the key individuals who changed the world’s perception of Los Angeles art.”

Mike Kelley is gone, but he has left us with an extraordinary legacy and a radical oeuvre whose impact and resonance will only intensify with time.

Mike Kelley was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1954. He studied at the California Institute of the Arts and the University of Michigan. Major solo exhibitions include "Catholic Tastes," Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1993); "Mike Kelley," Museu d'art Contemporani, Barcelona (1997); "Framed and Framed, Test Room, Sublevel," MAGASIN, Grenoble (1999); "The Uncanny," Tate Liverpool and Museum Moderne Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna (2004); "Profondeurs Vertes," Musée du Louvre (2006); and "Educational Complex Onwards: 1995-2008," WIELS Centre d'Art Contemporain (2008). He died in Los Angeles in 2012.

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