exordia

"By writing or reading obituaries, we can discover ways to make our time on earth more worthwhile, more productive, more meaningful to others."
Alana Baranick, "Life on the Death Beat"


"'I always read the obituaries in The Times,' I explained to her. 'They make me bloody glad to be alive.'"
John Mortimer, "Rumpole's Return"

Patricia Travers


A prodigy who vanished -- perspectives from the New York Times and NewJersey.com

Sammy Drake


Infielder was one of first pair of African American siblings in Major League Baseball -- via the L.A. Times

Claude Dorsey

Jazz pianist was fixture of Milwaukee scene -- via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. And here's a nice profile from 2003 via Maximum Ink.

Alert: Charles B. Pierce

 
The man who made this drive-in classic and "The Legend of Boggy Creek" has died.

More details coming! This Arkansas filmmaker made a movie for $160,000. It earned $25 million. An outsider artist par exellence. Via the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle. 

Philip Langridge

Brilliant English tenor was best known for his performances in the works of Benjamin Britten -- via WhatsonStage.com. A nice tribute in the Guardian; another from the New York Times and still another from the Times of London. Here he is singing the Hymn from Britten's Serenade....

Johnny Alf


He invented the Bossa Nova -- via Yahoo News. Check him out at the keyboard here . . .

Allan Wicks


Brilliant English organist was also a divine choirmaster at Canterbury Cathedral-- via the Guardian and the Times of London.

Here he is at work in this 1986 documentary -- listen to the wonderful sound he evokes.

Big John Becker


Master of the four-string jazz banjo -- via stltoday.com. Check out his artistry in this video!

Robert T. McCall


This inspiring artist was best known for his imaginative canvases and murals that depicted the conquest of space -- via the New York Times.

Nathan Scott

Composer, arranger, conductor worked in films and television -- via the L.A. Times

Ron Banks

 
Ron Banks (second from left) in the 2001 configuration of The Dramatics.

Founder of soul group The Dramatics -- via Detroit Free Press

Barbara Bray


One of the most amazing editors and translators of the 20th century. She supported Pinter and Beckett, and championed Duras, and brought us Sartre, Genet and Anouilh. Via the Guardian and the Times of London

Nan Martin


Nan Martin (left, with Cloris Leachman in "Mrs. Harris") specialized in scandalized old ladies.

You remember her -- she was in everything. During the last part of her career, she was typecast as an old dragon, but her work was much broader and more varied. Via the L.A. Times

Sergey Kozlov

 
Kozlov's "Hedgehog in the Fog" delighted millions.
Beloved Russian author of children's stories and fairy tales --  lovely tribute from translator Ekaterina Godunova, with a link to some of his work; via Rossiskaya Gazeta

Keith Alexander

 

Vladislav Ardzinba -- hero or villain?


First leader of independent Abkhazia was either a war criminal who orchestrated an ethnic cleansing campaign that forced 250,000 -- half the population -- out of his breakaway republic; or a great guy who dedicated his life to Abkhazia's self-determination and freedom. Depends on who you read. Via CBS News and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization.

Robert Crafton III, aka Chilly B

 
Chilly B, left, with Lady E and Cozmo D.
Newcleus bassist and rapper was old-school -- via the New York Times 

Helen Talbot


Beautiful actress labored in Republic Westerns and serials -- excellent take by Tom B. on Boot Hill

Bob Biniak


Pioneer skateboarder was one of the original "Lords of Dogtown" -- via the L.A. Times

Richard Devon


Ubiquitous character actor died Feb. 26; was best known as a bad guy in Westerns and crime dramas -- via IMDb and Western Clippings

Who will rate inclusion in the Oscar montage-of-the-dead reel?


A good story about Chuck Workman, an awesome documentary filmmaker and editor who creates many of the Academy Award ceremony montages. Evidently, it's a cutthroat competition to get into In Memoriam, which commemorates film business people who passed away during the year -- via Yahoo News

Michael Foot, Mervyn Jones

 
Foot.

A double death -- within days of each other, former British Labour leader Michael Foot and his biographer, Mervyn Jones -- via the Guardian and the Times of London. The Guardian ponders further on Foot here.

Al Meiklejohn

This Colorado state senator was the first politician I ever met (I grew up with his son Scott) -- a nice guy with a great sense of humor. Via the Denver Post --

Gene Greytak

 
Gene Greytak (left) in papal drag at a book promotion. He did a lot of charity work.

He looked a lot like Pope John Paul II -- via the L.A. Times

Julian More


British lyricist had a few stage hits, then switched to travel writing -- via the Guardian

Winston Churchill

The grandson of the historic leader and author was quite an interesting fellow, in his own way. Please note: British obituaries are remarkably more forthright and judgmental than their American counterparts. Via the Times of London and Yahoo News.

Abraham Sutzkever


The last great Yiddish poet, and a witness to a century, has died at 96 -- via the Guardian

Larry Cassidy

 
Section 25 singer passes away -- via Clash Music

Kristian Digby


BBC TV host may have died of autroerotic asphyixiation -- from the Telegraph

Clayton Love


St. Louis R&B keyboardist, vocalist played with Ike Turner -- via St. Louis Post-Dispatch