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"

Carole Ann Campbell


Child actress and singer -- via the Original Mickey Mouse Club website

Fuat Mansurov


Bolshoi conductor -- via the Bolshoi

Jerzy Stefan Stawinski


Polish screenwriter and director was part of the Warsaw Uprising; his experiences contributed to his remarkable collaboration with Andrzej Wajda, 1957's "Kanal" -- via Wikipedia

Little Orphan Annie

 Comic-strip character and musical heroine ends her daily newspaper run at the age of 85 -- via the Associated Press

Stella Nova


English New Wave guitarist -- via the Guardian

Reg White


Boatbuilder and sailor was an Olympic medalist and catamaran pioneer -- via the Times of Lonson

Sigmar Polke


Strange and wonderful German artist -- via the New York Times

Vladimir Arnold


Russian mathematician helped to found singularity theory -- via the New York Times

Joan Hinton


Physicist worked on the Manhattan Project, then joined China's Communist Revolution -- via the Washington Post

Christine Johnson Smith


Opera singer and actress will be best remembered as part of the original cast of "Carousel" -- via California Chronicle

Ian Knight


Stage designer worked with scads of rock greats -- via the Guardian

Frank Dye


Small-craft sailor had many adventures -- via the Telegraph

Robert B. Radnitz


Hollywood producer made that rarest of all commodities -- good, complex, uncondescending, quality films for children and families

Peter J. Hall

One of Hall's designs for the Seattle Opera's 2008 production of "I Puritani."
Costume designer noted for his work in opera -- via the New York Times

Freddie Burdette


Former Cubs pitcher -- via Albany Herald (GA)

Crispian St. Peters aka Robin Peter Smith


English musician best remembered for his cover of "You Were on My Mind," and his big hit, "The Pied Piper" -- via Mi2N.com

John McCormick

 Professor studied Santayna, wrote much, lived a life of adventure -- via the Telegraph

Michael Sayers aka Michael Connor

 Irish writer was forced to use pseudonym after Red Scare blacklisting -- via the Guardian

Lester Johnson


Expressionist painter -- via the New York Times

Abraham Nathanson


Co-creator of Bananagrams game -- via the Boston Globe

The elusive dead

Who was Ndoc Gjetja? Viana Junior? What did Ella Braginskaya do? How would Eduard Khrutsky or Esma Agolli like to be remembered?

These are people I note in my sources who have passed on, and whose lives may be of interest to my readers. They are, in order, an Albanian poet, a Brazilian comic, a Russian translator, a Russian crime novelist, and an Albanian actress. Their obituary notices are in their native languages. Other evidence of their lives, in English, is miniscule or nonexistent.

I do have my own idiosyncratic criteria for inclusion on the site -- you can find it on a previous post. Another set I should have included is that information on them is available in English and that visual, audio or other documentation can be posted that will help the reader to understand them.

Are these people insignificant simply because we can't access perspectives on them? How many figures around the world escape our ethnocentric focus? Perhaps, if this site ever moves beyond being a hobby, the time and effort can be exerted to dig deeper and reveal talents, characters and actions that otherwise would remain unknown.

Arthur Herzog III


Non-fiction writer and novelist -- via the New York Times

Marina Semyonova


Soviet ballerina -- via AFP

Arne Nordheim


Norwegian composer -- via the Norway Post. More via the Times of London

Andi Meriem Matalatta


Indonesian singer --

Pance Pondaag


Indonesian singer and composer -- via the Jakarta Post

Tony DiPreta


Comic strip artist worked on series such as "Joe Palooka" and "Rex Morgan, M.D." -- via the ctpost.com

Kovilan


Novelist -- via OneIndia

Andreas Voutsinas


Greek director, actor and teacher -- via WTOP. Best remembered here as Carmen Ghia in the original film of "The Producers."

Jack Beeson


American composer best known for his operas -- via Boosey & Hawkes

Ladislav Smoljak


Czech writer and director known mainly for his comic work -- via Radio Prague

Stuart Cable


Former drummer of the Stereophonics was also a talented broadcaster -- via the Independent

Joseph de Bicske Dobronyi


Larger-than-life baron was last of his kind -- via the Miami Herald

Frank Ballard


Puppeteer -- via the Hartford Courant

Jerry Stephenson


Pitcher later became major league scout -- via the L.A. Times

Calvin Leavy

 Bluesman -- via the Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Marvin Isley


Great rock and funk bassist with, naturally, the Isley Brothers -- via Spinner

Robert L. Healy


Long-time reporter, editor and columnist for the Boston Globe -- via the Globe. He kicked the gun from the hand of Sirhan Sirhan; he later made Nixon's enemies list.

David Markson


Versatile writer best known for his postmodern experiments -- via Newser

Helen Krich Chinoy


Great theater writer and historian -- via the New York Times

Himan Brown


Radio producer during the medium's glory days; he later created the revival series, CBS Radio Mystery Theatre -- via the New York Times. P.S. -- although the obit writer states that "while radio dramas are now celebrated as wistful nostalgia by people in their 70s and 80s," I can state that my affection for and belief in the power of radio has grown since my boyhood days (I am 49), and that I have created and produced several radio projects, and would love to keep the tradition alive! Thanks, Mr. Brown -- you have been a life-long inspiration!