Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ben E. King, Soulful Singer of ‘Stand by Me’

Ben E. King, the smooth, soulful baritone who led the Drifters on “There Goes My Baby,” “Save the Last Dance for Me” and other hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and as a solo artist recorded the classic singles “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand by Me,” died on Thursday in Hackensack, N.J. He was 76.
His lawyer, Judy Tint, said Mr. King, who lived in Teaneck, N.J., died at Hackensack University Medical Center after a brief illness, offering no further details.
Mr. King was working in his father’s Harlem luncheonette in 1956 when a local impresario, Lover Patterson, overheard him singing to himself and persuaded him to join a group he managed, the Five Crowns.
Lightning struck when the group, then known as the Crowns, performed at the Apollo Theater on a bill with the original Drifters in 1958 and attracted the attention of George Treadwell, who managed the Drifters and owned the name.
Stand by me, Ben E. King, 1961
Video by BlackAsWhite1
Mr. Treadwell had been feuding with his group, which had entered a lean period after Clyde McPhatter, its lead singer, was drafted into the Army in late 1954. He fired the Drifters en masse and replaced them with Mr. King and three of his fellow singers.

“There Goes My Baby,” released in 1959, reached No. 2 on the pop charts. It was followed by “Dance With Me,” “This Magic Moment,” “I Count the Tears,” “Lonely Winds” and “Save the Last Dance for Me,” a No. 1 hit.
Mr. King left the Drifters in 1960 and embarked on a successful solo career. “Spanish Harlem,” written by Mr. Leiber with Phil Spector, reached the Top 10 that year. “Stand by Me,” which Mr. King helped write, reached the Top 10 in 1961 and again in 1986, when it was used in the soundtrack of the Rob Reiner film of the same name.

William Sokolin, Wine Seller Who Broke Famed Bottle

Do be careful.

William Sokolin holding the bottle broken at the Four Seasons in 1989. It was insured. Credit William E. Sauro/The New York Times
The slightest mishap can cause someone to cry over their beer, or shed tears over spilled milk, but on April 23, 1989, at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan, nobody could have blamed William Sokolin if he had sobbed over a broken bottle of wine.

Not just any bottle, even by Four Seasons standards, where a double magnum of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, St. Julien 2008 now goes for $2,700. The bottle Mr. Sokolin famously broke that night was a 1787 Château Margaux, which had been found in a Paris cellar in 1985 and was said to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson. (It was inscribed with the initials Th.J.) Mr. Sokolin had been hoping to sell it for $519,750.

A wine merchant for more than a half-century, Mr. Sokolin died of heart failure at 85 on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan, his son, David, said.

He was born on April 25, 1930, the son of David Sokolin, who opened a liquor store on Madison Avenue after Prohibition ended (and was said to have been granted New York State license No. 4), and the former Lillian Isacoff.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Eugenie Clark, Scholar of the Life Aquatic

Eugenie Clark, whose childhood rapture with fish in a New York City aquarium led to a life of scholarly adventure in the littorals and depths of the Seven Seas and to a global reputation as a marine biologist and expert on sharks, died on Wednesday at her home in Sarasota, Fla. She was 92.

The cause was lung cancer, her son Nikolas Konstantinou said.Long before “Jaws” scared the wits out of swimmers, Dr. Clark rode a 40-foot whale shark off Baja California, ran into killer great white sharks while scuba diving in Hawaii, studied “sleeping” sharks in undersea caves off the Yucatán, witnessed a shark’s birth and found a rare six-gill shark in a submersible dive off Bermuda.

Eugenie Clark in 1951. Credit The American Museum of Natural History

Dr. Clark was an ichthyologist and oceanographer whose academic credentials, teaching and research posts, scientific activities and honors filled a 20-page curriculum vitae, topped by longtime roles as a professor at the University of Maryland and director of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.

She also wrote three books, 80 scientific treatises and more than 70 articles and professional papers; lectured at 60 American universities and in 19 countries abroad; appeared in 50 television specials and documentaries; was the subject of many biographies and profiles; made intriguing scientific discoveries; and had four species of fish named for her.
Over the years, Dr. Clark made more than 70 deep dives in submersibles, once to 12,000 feet. Credit Tak Konstantinou
Ms. Clark was born in New York City on May 4, 1922, to Charles Clark and the former Yumico Mitomi. Her father died when she was 2. Her mother worked in Lower Manhattan, and when the girl was 9 she began leaving her on Saturday mornings at an aquarium near the Battery. Fascinated, Eugenie persuaded her mother to buy her a 15-gallon tank and kept fish, toads, snakes and a small alligator at home.

She graduated from Bryant High School in Queens and Hunter College, where she majored in zoology, and earned a master’s degree at New York University.

After doing research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, she was a research assistant at the Museum of Natural History in New York and returned to N.Y.U., where she earned a doctorate in 1950, focusing on fish reproduction.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sam Andrew, Guitarist for Big Brother and the Holding Company

Sam Andrew with Janis Joplin at the Filmore East in New York in 1968. Credit Elliott Landy/, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Samuel Goldwyn Jr., Hollywood Scion

Samuel Goldwyn Jr., an urbane, soft-spoken scion of a Hollywood dynasty who became an influential movie executive in his own right, supporting promising young directors and advancing the independent film movement, died here on Friday. He was 88. A ravenous book reader, possessing intellectual curiosity in a business not known for it, Mr. Goldwyn was an early champion of stylized, cerebral films that most major studios thought would never sell a ticket. His indie operation, the Samuel Goldwyn Company, founded in 1979, helped create a business model — low production costs, guerrilla marketing — that allowed art-house movies to grow into a powerful cultural and economic force.

Rod Taylor, 84, Target in ‘The Birds’

Rod Taylor, the ruggedly handsome Australian-born actor who fended off attacks from above in Alfred Hitchcock’s revered horror film “The Birds” and helped an 8,000th-century people escape a monster race in the film version of the science-fiction classic “The Time Machine,” died on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ray Sadecki, Who Helped Cardinals Win World Series

Sadecki, a left-hander who finished his career with the Mets, was 19 when he reached the majors, joining the Cardinals in 1960 and establishing himself as a starter. He helped the team become a reliable winner. Six seasons later, he left in a trade that also helped the Cardinals win.
In his second season with St. Louis, he pitched 222 innings, with a 14-10 record and an earned run average of 3.72, the 10th best in the National League. Three years later, he and the Cardinals had breakout seasons.
Pitching 220 innings, Sadecki won 20 games in 1964. His victory total was the third best in the league, but he was probably only the Cardinals’ third-best starter, behind Bob Gibson, who won 19 games, and Curt Simmons, who won 18.
A late-season surge, coupled with a remarkable collapse by the Philadelphia Phillies, helped the Cardinals win the pennant. They defeated the Yankees in the World Series in seven games.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

John Doar, Federal Lawyer in Battle Against Segregation

John Doar, who was a leader in the federal government’s legal efforts to dismantle segregation in the South during the most volatile period of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and who returned to government service to lead the team that made the constitutional case for the impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon, died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 92.
The cause was congestive heart failure, his son Robert said.
Mr. Doar prosecuted some of the most notorious cases of murder and violence in the South in the ’60s, and was instrumental in changing the region’s pattern of race-based politics based on voter discrimination. In 1974 Mr. Doar, a Republican, was named chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee investigating the Watergate scandal.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce, Former Cream Frontman is the headline of a small NY Times piece.  Jack Bruce, who formed influential British rock band Cream in the 1960s with guitarist Eric Clapton, has died aged 71, his family said on Saturday. Bruce co-wrote some of Cream's biggest hits including "Sunshine of Your Love" and "I Feel Free" before the band broke up after only two years in 1968. Bruce, who was born in Glasgow, began playing bass as a teenager and dropped out of music school because he was not allowed to play jazz.

Jack Bruce, former Cream man is the headline in the obit in the Guardian. Bruce played bass, sang and was the principal songwriter in Cream, but even leaving aside that group, in which he played with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, his CV reads like a comprehensive guide to the British blues boom, with spells in Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc, the Graham Bond Organisation, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Manfred Mann.
  Embedded, it has video of Cream playing White Room live in 1968. That led me to finding a film made about the end of the group in 1968.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ben Bradlee, legendary Washington Post editor

Wash Post obit: Ben Bradlee, legendary Washington Post editor
Benjamin C. Bradlee, who presided over The Washington Post newsroom for 26 years and guided The Post’s transformation into one of the world’s leading newspapers, died Oct. 21 at his home in Washington of natural causes. He was 93.

Mr. Bradlee loved the Watergate story, not least because it gave the newspaper “impact,” his favorite word in his first years as editor. He wanted the paper to be noticed. In his personal vernacular — a vivid, blasphemous argot that combined the swearwords he mastered in the Navy during World War II with the impeccable enunciation of a blue-blooded Bostonian — a great story was “a real tube-ripper.” This meant a story was so hot that Post readers would rip the paper out of the tubes into which the paperboy delivered it. A bad story was “mego” — the acronym for “my eyes glaze over” — applied to anything that bored him. Maximizing the number of tube-rippers and minimizing mego was the Bradlee strategy.

Although he graduated from St. Mark’s School and Harvard University, the Navy left as much of a mark on Mr. Bradlee as did his early life among Boston’s WASP aristocracy. The Navy taught him to swear, as well as to respect talent wherever it appeared.

NY Times obit: Ben Bradlee, Editor Who Directed Watergate Coverage

Ben Bradlee, who presided over The Washington Post’s Watergate reporting that led to the fall of President Richard M. Nixon and that stamped him in American culture as the quintessential newspaper editor of his era — gruff, charming and tenacious — died on Tuesday. He was 93.

When the trail of crimes and shenanigans led directly to the White House, Nixon was forced to resign in August 1974. The tapes that he himself had made of conversations in the Oval Office confirmed what The Post had been reporting. Mrs. Graham wrote to Mr. Bradlee in her Christmas letter that year, “We were only saved from extinction by someone mad enough not only to tape himself but to tape himself talking about how to conceal it.”

In their book, describing meetings in Mr. Bradlee’s office, Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein recalled how Mr. Bradlee would pick up an undersize sponge-rubber basketball and toss it at a small hoop attached to a window. “The gesture was indicative both of the editor’s short attention span and of a studied informality,” they wrote. “There was an alluring combination of aristocrat and commoner about Bradlee.”

They observed that double-edged manner in Washington society, sometimes seeing it displayed in one swoop, as when Mr. Bradlee would “grind his cigarettes out in a demitasse cup during a formal dinner party.” “Bradlee,” they added, “was one of the few persons who could pull that kind of thing off and leave the hostess saying how charming he was.”


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

David Greenglass, Spy Who Helped Seal the Rosenbergs’ Doom

David Greenglass in 1956 at a hearing of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. Credit Henry Griffin/Associated Press

It was the most notorious spy case of the Cold War — the conviction and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union — and it rested largely on the testimony of Ms. Rosenberg’s brother, David Greenglass, whose name to many became synonymous with betrayal.

For his role in the conspiracy, Mr. Greenglass, an Army sergeant who had stolen nuclear intelligence from Los Alamos, N.M., went to prison for almost a decade, then changed his name and lived quietly until a journalist tracked him down. He admitted then, nearly a half-century later, that he had lied on the witness stand to save his wife from prosecution, giving testimony that he was never sure about but that nevertheless helped send his sister and her husband to the electric chair in 1953.

Mr. Greenglass died on July 1, a family member confirmed. He was 92. His family did not announce his death; The New York Times learned of it in a call to the nursing home where he had been living under his assumed name. Mr. Greenglass’s wife, Ruth, who had played a minor role in the conspiracy and also gave damning testimony against the Rosenbergs, died in 2008.

In today’s world, where spying has more to do with greed than ideology, the story of David Greenglass and the Rosenbergs is an enduring time capsule from an age of uncertainties — of world war against fascism, Cold War with the Soviets, and shifting alliances that led some Americans to embrace utopian communism and others to denounce such ideas, and their exponents, as un-American.

Mr. Greenglass, who grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in a household that believed Marxism would save humanity, was an ardent, preachy Communist when drafted by the Army in World War II, but no one in the barracks took him very seriously, much less believed him capable of spying.

He was not well educated, but his skills as a machinist — and pure luck — led to his assignment in 1944 to the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, where America’s first atomic bombs were being developed. After being picked to replace a soldier who had gone AWOL, he lied on his security clearance report and was assigned to a team making precision molds for high-explosive lenses used to detonate the nuclear core.

When Mr. Rosenberg, already a Soviet spy, learned of his brother-in-law’s work, he recruited him. Security was often lax at Los Alamos, with safes and file cabinets left unlocked and classified documents lying on desks. Mr. Greenglass had no need for Hollywood spy tricks. He kept his eyes and ears open, and in mid-1945 sent Mr. Rosenberg a crude sketch and 12 pages of technical details on the bomb.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

George Shuba, Whose Handshake Heralded Racial Tolerance in Baseball

George Shuba greeted Jackie Robinson, right, when Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in a minor league game in 1946. Credit Associated Press
George Shuba, the Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder who played in three World Series during the 1950s but who was best remembered for his welcoming gesture to Jackie Robinson at home plate on the day Robinson, as a minor leaguer, broke baseball’s color barrier, died on Monday at his home in Youngstown, Ohio. He was 89. His son, Michael, confirmed the death.

Playing in Brooklyn for seven seasons, Shuba was usually a backup, but he had his moments. Known as Shotgun for his ability to spray line drives, like buckshot, out of his left-handed batting stance, he batted .305 for the Dodgers’ 1952 National League pennant-winner. He was the first National Leaguer to hit a pinch-hit homer in the World Series, connecting for a two-run drive off Allie Reynolds at Yankee Stadium in Game 1 of the 1953 Series.

But his career was most pointedly defined in Jersey City, by an image at home plate at Roosevelt Stadium two years before Shuba made his major league debut.

But his career was most pointedly defined in Jersey City, by an image at home plate at Roosevelt Stadium two years before Shuba made his major league debut.
On the afternoon of April 18, 1946, Robinson became the first black player in modern organized baseball when he made his debut with the Dodgers’ Montreal Royals farm team in their International League opener against the Jersey City Giants.
Shuba in 1948. Credit The New York Times
In the third inning, Robinson hit a three-run homer over the left-field fence. When he completed his trip around the bases, Shuba, the Royals’ left fielder and their next batter, shook his hand.
Congratulating a home-run hitter was a commonplace ritual, but Shuba’s welcome to a smiling Robinson was captured in an Associated Press photograph that has endured as a portrait of racial tolerance.
“I couldn’t care less if Jackie was Technicolor,” Shuba told The Montreal Gazette on the 60th anniversary of that handshake. “We’d spent 30 days at spring training, and we all knew that Jackie had been a great athlete at U.C.L.A. As far as I was concerned, he was a great ballplayer — our best. I had no problem going to the plate to shake his hand instead of waiting for him to come by me in the on-deck circle.”
Robinson had four hits in five plate appearances that afternoon in the Royals’ 14-1 victory. In their second game of the season, Shuba hit three home runs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bruce Morton, Veteran CBS News Reporter

Bruce Morton, an award-winning reporter during what CBS News veterans considered the organization’s glory days, from the 1960s through the 1980s, died on Friday at his home in Washington. He was 83.
The cause was complications of cancer, his daughter, Sarah Morton, said.
Mr. Morton, who later worked at CNN, gained a reputation as a solid reporter of expansive breadth and expertise, with special gifts as a writer. He covered most of the major news events of the era, including the Vietnam War, the space program, racial unrest, the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy and the Watergate scandal.

Gerald Wilson, Versatile Jazz Arranger

“Even if you were chronologically decades or maybe generations younger than Gerald, you always felt like he was the youngest person in the room,” Loren Schoenberg, a saxophonist and conductor who is the artistic director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, said in an interview on Tuesday. “He had none of that feeling that you were hanging out with a guy from the 1930s or 1940s.”
Mr. Wilson was often a behind-the-scenes influence; even if you had never heard of him, you were often hearing him. Usually he was given credit. Sometimes his work was brazenly borrowed.

The memorable melody from “Yard Dog Mazurka,” the stomping hit he wrote for Lunceford (and among Mr. Wilson’s favorites of his own compositions), resurfaced as “Intermission Riff,” a hit for the Stan Kenton band for which Ray Wetzel was credited as the composer. Mr. Wilson considered suing but decided against it. Years later, he wrote for Mr. Kenton — and received credit.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Walter Mazzone; Directed Navy Underwater Feats

Capt. Walter F. Mazzone played a pivotal role in two underwater Navy exploits during the 20th century. In World War II, he kept a waterlogged submarine from going belly up while it was carrying 40 Americans rescued from the Philippines. Twenty years later he helped organize the first Sealab tests of human endurance at crushing ocean depths — conducting the first tests on himself — which established the deepwater diving protocols still used by military and commercial divers today.
Captain Mazzone, who died on Aug. 7 at 96 in San Diego, was considered one of the Navy’s most exacting detail men in the underwater realm — where a millimeter’s leak, a workaday tangle and a molecule-size mistake are life-or-death matters.
On submarines, Captain Mazzone (pronounced mah-ZOH-nee) was the diving officer, in charge of taking the sub down, surfacing it and keeping it on an even keel when under attack. On Sealab experiments, he was the life-support man — helping divers descend hundreds of feet, stay below for weeks at a time and come back alive through a method he helped develop called “saturation diving.”

Capt. Walter F. Mazzone in the foreground with Capt. George F. Bond as they prepared to visit Sealab II off California in 1965. Credit U.S. Navy

Captain Mazzone, who was awarded the Silver Star and other medals, left the Navy after the war but rejoined it in the late 1950s to work with Capt. George F. Bond and others on research that would become the backbone of the Navy’s Sealab project.
In 1962, the team launched the 57-foot-long sausage-shaped underwater chamber known as Sealab I, which upended the conventional wisdom that, even with oxygen tanks, divers could not survive at a depth of more than 150 feet for more than a half-hour. The four divers in Sealab I remained at a depth of 192 feet for 11 days.
Captain Bond, a medical doctor, had pioneered the technique that made it possible: saturation diving, which virtually rewrote the chemistry of human respiration and temporarily transformed human divers into marine mammals.

The method involved replacing the sea-level mix of air (about 80 percent nitrogen and 20 percent oxygen) with a different mix (90 percent helium and 10 percent or less of oxygen) that could sustain human life underwater at great depths.

William Greaves, a Documentarian and Pioneering Journalist

The AP obit takes a slightly different track than the Times's obit.

William Greaves, the Emmy-award winning co-host and executive producer of a groundbreaking television news program and a prolific filmmaker whose subjects ranged from Muhammad Ali to the Harlem Renaissance to the black middle class, has died at age 87.
Greaves died Monday at his Manhattan home after a prolonged illness, according to his granddaughter, Liani Greaves.
A minister's son born in New York City, Greaves had a diverse background that included drawing, acting, dance and engineering. He leaves behind a vast film archive of black art and culture

William Greaves making his experimental and long-neglected 1968 film, “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One.” Credit John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive — Getty Images
Mr. Greaves was well known for his work as a documentarian focusing on racial issues and black historical figures. In his later years he was equally known for his most uncharacteristic film, “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One.” Made in 1968, it mixed fact and fiction in a complex film-within-a-film structure that made it a tough sell commercially, and it waited almost four decades for theatrical release. When it finally had one, in 2005, it was warmly praised as ahead of its time.

Mr. Greaves (rhymes with “leaves”) gained national recognition as a co-host and later executive producer of “Black Journal,” a monthly hourlong National Educational Television newsmagazine that made its debut in 1968 in response to a call by the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders to expand coverage of black affairs. It was the only nationally telecast series devoted to black issues in the 1960s.

William Greaves, 2nd right, Don Fellows and Patricia Ree Gilbert filming "Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One." Credit Jerry Pantzer
“By the acid test of professional and perceptive journalism, ‘Black Journal’ has earned its rightful niche as a continuing and absorbing feature of television’s output,” the television critic Jack Gould wrote in The New York Times in 1969. “Mr. Greaves is simply covering a story that should be covered and covering it with distinction.”
In 1970, “Black Journal” won an Emmy in the “magazine-type programming” category.
Later that year, Mr. Greaves left the program to pursue projects developed by his own production company. (He was replaced by Tony Brown, and the program was later renamed “Tony Brown’s Journal.”)

 Tony Brown's Journal I know.

In his later years, when asked about his achievements as a chronicler of black history and black life, Mr. Greaves was proud but modest. “I thought I was going to be a hurricane, but I ended up a becoming merely a single raindrop,” he once said. “Hopefully there are other raindrops of similar mind.”

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Richard Attenborough, Actor, Director and Giant of British Cinema

Until the early 1960s, Mr. Attenborough was a familiar actor in Britain but little known in the United States. In London he was the original detective in Agatha Christie’s play “The Mousetrap.” On the British screen, he made an early mark as the sociopath Pinkie Brown in an adaptation of Graham Greene’s “Brighton Rock” (1947).

But it was not until he appeared with his friend Steve McQueen and a sterling ensemble cast in the 1963 war film “The Great Escape,” his first Hollywood feature, that he found a trans-Atlantic audience. His role, as a British officer masterminding an escape plan from a German prisoner-of-war camp, was integral to one of the most revered and enjoyable of all World War II films.

Just watched recently, after James garner passed.

Saturday, August 16, 2014