Growing up, she was a beloved celebrity in her home country. Thousands of girls were named after her. So was a bestselling perfume. But Josef Stalin's "Little Sparrow," his only daughter, (born Svetlana Stalina) defected to the United States in 1967. Upon arriving in New York, she promptly held a press conference that surprised the world, denouncing her father's regime. Svetlana became a naturalized US citizen, moved to Taliesin West, married an American, changed her name to Lana Peters, then returned to the Soviet Union in 1984, declaring that she had not been free "for one single day" in the U.S., only to once again return to America in 1986. She lived out her remaining days in a small town in Wisconsin. Mrs. Peters passed away from colon cancer on November 22nd, at the age of 85. [more inside]
"For the progress of humanity, work alone is not adequate, but the work should be associated with love, compassion, right conduct, truthfulness and sympathy. Without the above qualities, selfless service cannot be performed."On Sunday morning, Indian guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba passed away. He leaves behind a massive empire, several million mourning devotees worldwide, an extensive religious philosophy, a great deal of controversy and a legacy of large-scale philanthropic projects in India, including free hospitals and mobile medical facilities, a free university and schools, and other efforts which included supplying clean water to hundreds of rural villages. [more inside]
Knut, who charmed visitors to the Berlin Zoo as an orphaned cub in 2007, died in his enclosure today in front of a crowd of 600-700 people. Knut was only four years old, as opposed to the typical polar bear lifespan of 15-18 years. Tragedy seems to have followed Knut for his entire brief life: his twin died at only four days old, and the zookeeper who hand-raised him died in 2008. As Knut grew, he stopped being the cute cuddly cub everybody loved; like many zoo animals, his behavior became problematic, and people avoided visiting him. A post-mortem is scheduled for Monday.
Director Blake Edwards, Dies at 88. A prolific writer and director, honorary Oscar recipient, and husband to Julie Andrews, Edwards died of complications from Pnuemonia. He was the director of such classics as Days of Wine and Roses, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Victor/Victoria and, of course, the Pink Panther film series. Does your dog bite?
Gravelly-voiced character actor James Gammon has passed away of cancer at the age of 70. His career spanned more than 50 years in television, (with roles from "Gunsmoke" to "Grays Anatomy",) film and theater, but most will probably remember him as either the cantankerous manager of the Cleveland Indians in the 1989 comedy "Major League" or as Don Johnson's crotchety, retired longshoreman father on the television show Nash Bridges. [more inside]
When "Proto-Pop" artist Larry Rivers' died in 2002, he left behind extensive archives of his letters, paperwork, photographs and film documenting the New York artistic and literary scene from the 1940s through the 1980s. They chronicle his friendships and relationships with dozens of artists, musicians and writers, from Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol to Frank O’Hara. Also included: films and videos of his two adolescent daughters, naked or topless, being interviewed by their father about their developing breasts. Now, one daughter, who says she was pressured to participate beginning when she was 11, is demanding that material be removed from the archive and returned to her and her sister. [more inside]
She's been called "the greatest posthumous success story in music history." But when she died of melanoma at age 33, few people outside of the Washington DC-area had heard of Eva Marie Cassidy. [more inside]
I hear babies cry and I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than we'll know. And I think to myself: What a Wonderful World
You may not know who Israel "Brudda Iz" Kamakawiwoʻole was, but you're probably familiar with his medley of "Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World," which has been included on several movie soundtracks and used on television shows & commercials throughout the world.... [more inside]
And I was left only to pick up an abandoned handkerchief and savor the perfumed shadows of these women... these southern women.
Dixie Carter, probably best known for her role as the fearlessly opinionated Southern belle Julia Sugarbaker on Designing Women, has died. She was 70 years old.
Edward M. Kennedy, Senator from Massachusetts, has died at age 77. After a rocky youth (including scandals of cheating and reckless driving), Kennedy followed his brothers into politics, making health care his cause, and eventually went on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Anticipating his own death, he had been trying to create a quick transition for his replacement as a vote on health care reform rapidly approached.
Memphis music legend Jim Dickinson has died. Dickinson's full credits are as impressive a resume as you'll find over the past 40 years: session player for many, including the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Aretha Franklin. Producer for albums by Jason and the Scorchers, Big Star, the Replacements, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and Mudhoney. Among his survivors are sons Cody and Luther of the North Mississippi All-Stars. His death comes one week after a benefit show in his honor headlined by John Hiatt. R.I.P., Jim.
Former Beatles roadie Neil Aspinall has died of lung cancer. He was the head of the Beatles’ Apple Corporation until about a year ago, when he resigned after the settlement of a long running dispute with Apple Computer. [more inside]
Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001, inventor of the telecommunications satellite and the only reason most geeks can find Sri Lanka on a map, has died shortly after celebrating his 90th birthday.
Milton Friedman has died. One of the most famous economists to come out of the Chicago school, his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom was a straightforward challenge to the predominant Keynesian model that government intervention was frequently necessary to prevent market failures, arguing instead that the way to true political freedom was through economic freedom. He was a devout monetarist and although conventional wisdom conflates conservatism with laissez-faire economics, he described his own philosophy as liberal in the Enlightenment sense of the word. His 1980 book Free to Choose, written with his wife Rose in conjunction with the PBS series of the same name, explained in layman's term his philosophy of how a truly free market works for the benefit of society.
Death in threes? Jonno pointed it out about six weeks ago, and I thought to myself that he was right. But man, the deaths are coming thick and fast now. The score, for those of us playing along at home, is: Musicians' deaths, 3 (John Lee Hooker, Chet Atkins and Joe Henderson), actors' deaths: 2 (Carroll O'Connor, Jack Lemmon) and Net folks' deaths, 2 (Jim Ellis and Michael Hauben. (Boozoo Chavis' passing, noted by fooljay, could be totted up in the musicians' column as well. Anthony Quinn and Joan Sims could go in the actors' column, if (like harrycaul and wackybrit, you were so inclined.)