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"

Romulus Linney

Spectacularly gifted and far-ranging playwright-- via the New York Times.

Susannah York

Beautiful and talented actress -- via the Telegraph. Best in roles in films such as "Tom Jones, "The Killing of Sister George," "they Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and "The Silent Partner."

Tommy Crain

Guitarist -- via the Tennessean. He was best known for his long-time work with the Charlie Daniels Band.

Paul Picerni

Actor in film and television -- via monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com. He will be best remembered as Lee Hobson, the right-hand man of G-man Eliot Ness, played by Robert Stack, in the early TV series "The Untouchables."

Trish Keenan

Vocalist with electronic music band Broadcast -- via contactmusic.com.

From the New York Times: "Cyberspace When You're Dead"

Rob Walker discusses the pros and cons of the digital traces we leave behind online after we die -- via the New York Times. Can we, Pharaohnically, build eternity-challenging digital pyramids that will serve as electronic monuments?

Prabhakar Panshikar

Actor -- via the Times of India.

Al Koslik

Actor -- via CBC News.

Mary Scruggs

Comedy writer, performer and teacher -- via the Chicago Tribune.

Jennie Federow York

Singer -- via Legacy.com.

John Sadovy

Photographer -- via the Telegraph.

Peter Hobbs

Actor -- via Theater Mania. This seemingly perpetually distinguished-looking performer started on the stage, but is best known most his incredible number of appearances on TV and in films, usually playing authority figures such as doctors, judges and men of the cloth. His sober appearance did not mean he couldn't be funny -- on the contrary, he was a superb and sly underplayer.

Makinti Napanangka

Artist -- via the Australian.

Joe Gores

Honored mystery writer and screenwriter -- via mediabistro.com.

John Dye

Actor -- via MSNBC.

Won-il Rhee

Digital art curator -- via www.art-it.asia.

John Modinos

Baritone -- via greece.greekreporter.com.

Ellen Stewart

Theatrical genius and visionary -- via the New York Times. She started La MaMa Experimental Theater Club in New York City in 1961. She somehow created and maintained a cooperative, forward-looking, tolerant, innovative performing space that was a major influence on the creative arts in the United States. She directed, produced, and did everything one does to keep an impossible dream alive. She did it! I met her in 1978 at a performance of "The Trojan Women" -- a show that ripped the top of my head off and redefined theatre for me. She changed my life and that of many others -- thank you, thank you, dear master! Here's a lovely portrait of her in the New York Times --

Susana Chavez

Poet and human rights activist -- via the BBC and the Tribuna Meoqui. She worked hard to draw attention to and protest the hundreds of murders of young, poor women in and around Ciduad Juarez in Mexico. She herself was murdered. UPDATE on Jan. 13, 2011 on Chavez murder --

David Nelson

Actor, producer and director -- via the New York Times. He "grew up famous" as the oldest of two sons of bandleader Ozzie Nelson and singer Harriet Hilliard, who starred for decades as "Ozzie and Harriet" on radio and then TV. David and his younger brother Ricky were cast in the show and lived an odd kind of double life as family members on- and off-stage. Ricky went on to a moderately successful musical career; David maintained a lower profile. Ricky died in a plane crash in 1985; David lived a longer, and hopefully more tranquil life.

Christopher Trumbo

Screenwriter, historian, playwright and historian -- via ABC News. He was instrumental in illuminating the life of his father, blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo.

Margaret Whiting

Popular singer -- via Broadway World. Don't remember her? She introduced these songs -- "Come Rain or Come Shine," "That Old Black Magic," "It Might As Well Be Spring" and "Moonlight in Vermont." Not too shabby! Her biggest hit was the country number "Slippin' Around," recorded in 1949 with Jimmy Wakely.

Solange Michel

Mezzo-soprano -- via Opera News.

Klauspeter Seibel

Conductor and music director -- via WWLTV.

Edward J. "Red" Borom

Baseball player -- via Bill Schenley, groups.google.com/group/alt.obituaries and the Dallas Morning News. Here's a lovely portrait of him from Jim Sargent at the Baseball Biography Project. He once got four hits in a game off of Bob Feller!

Jose "Papito" Vidal

Former major leaguer -- via voy.com.

Vivek Shauqa

Writer, comedian, actor and singer -- via Indiantelevision.com.

Padma Atluri

TV writer -- via Deadline Hollywood.

Del Reisman

Television writer and producer -- via Deadline Hollywood.

Bosko Petrovic

Vibraphonist, composer and teacher -- via AFP.

Maria Elena Walsh

Poet, writer, composer and singer for children -- via ABC News. Her work often contained pointed messages for grown-ups as well . . .

Paul Soldner

Ceramic artist -- via the New York Times.

Richard Whittington

Food writer -- the Telegraph.

John Gross

Author, editor, literary critic and anthologist -- via the Telegraph. "The best-read man in Britain."

Tom Lubbock

Art critic and illustrator -- via the Independent. Here's a little sample of his work -- naughty! naughty! What a charming, and honest, and incisive writer.

Ean Wood

Writer, record producer, sound editor, screenwriter and director -- via the Independent.

Ruth Cavin

Editor and "the world's nicest person" -- via idealog.com.

Elfa Secioria

Pianist -- via Bali News.

Yue Lei

Singer -- via AsiaOne News.

Juanito Navarro

Actor -- via the Latin American Herald Tribune.

Carlton Chester "Cookie" Gilchrist

Football player -- via the Buffalo News. An amazing player who was an offensive and defensive wonder (and he kicked!); he ran for 243 yards and FIVE TOUCHDOWNS against the New York Jets as a member of the Buffalo Bills in 1963. Saw him play for the Broncos in the mid-'60s; he was also a vocal civil rights advocate, and stood up resolutely for professional treatment, during his career -- in a time when African-American athletes were by and large expected to "shut up and play."

Richard Winters

Citizen soldier -- via AP. An exemplary and dedicated participant in World War II. I rarely highlight the lives of veterans or combatants, but Winters inspired such devotion, and accepted his honors with such humility, that he deserves mention here. Much of his story was adapted into one of the best television docudramas in history, "Band of Brothers." Judging by his own statements, and those that served with him, he embodied the virtues of great leadership -- honesty, fairness, concern for his men, quick and decisive (and correct) thinking, and equanimity in life-and-death situations. His efforts stand for those of millions of others who, in all wars, attempt to end them as soon as possible by doing the right thing.

Peter Yates

Film director -- via Deadline Hollywood. He worked his way up in the British film industry, and got started as a director in TV, on series such as "The Saint" and "Secret Agent." He filmed a few clinkers, but produced a diverse body of great work -- "Bullitt," "The Hot Rock," "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," "Breaking Away" and "The Dresser," to name a few.




Bernard Harper Friedman

Novelist, art critic and biographer -- via the New York Times.

Louise Zibold Reiss

Scientist who helped produce data that led to banning of atmospheric nuclear testing -- via the New York Times.

The Tuscon Massacre victims

For the first time, a list of all the victims to date of the shooting in Tucson on Jan. 8, 2011 -- via the Huffington Post. Regretfully, the mainstream media initially covered only the two most marketable deaths -- that of a federal judge and that of a 9-year-old of notable descent. All the victims are to be mourned by their loved ones, regardless of their media appeal.

Debbie Friedman

Singer/songwriter -- via the Jewish Daily Forward. UPDATE: on her funeral services, from my rabbi:
"Debbie Friedman's great musical and spiritual legacy will continue for sure. Alah hashalom, peace on her gentle, sweet soul.  Strength and comfort to her mother Freda and her sister Cheryl.  The funeral is today (Tuesday) at 11am Pacific time (1/11/11 @ 11) and will actually be streamed live if anyone wants to watch.  It will be at noon mountain time. You may access the live streaming video of the funeral at: www.tbsoc.org/debbie
May the memory of this righteous person who contributed and gave so much to the world, always be a source of blessing."

David M. Sisler

MLB pitcher -- via usatoday.com.

Jack Rowzie

Police officer turned pioneering DJ -- via the Washington Post.

Peter Donaldson

Actor -- via The Globe and Mail.

Cyril Harris

Acoustical engineer -- via the New York Times.

Jiri Dienstbier

Journalist, then dissident, and finally government minister -- via the New York Times.

Bobby Robinson

Legendary record producer, label owner and music retailer -- via the New York Daily News. His record store, Bobby's Record Shop aka Bobby's Happy House, was the first business owned by an African-American on Harlem's 125th Street. He moved on to produce everything from blues to R & B to doo-wop to rock 'n' rool to soul to rap to hip-hop -- over 50 years of musical history! Elmore James, the Shirelles, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Doug E. Fresh, Gladys Knight & the Pips, King Curtis, "Kansas City," "Ya Ya," Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right," "Tossin' and Turnin'" . . . No Bobby Robinson, no Elvis -- no Beatles -- no rap. Thank you, sir!