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"

Lanford Wilson

Playwright -- via Broadway World. A personal idol and one of the best American playwrights of his time. A founder of Off-Off Broadway.  He was a key part of the scene in New York in the early 60's, with his "The Madness of Lady Bright" providing the first big success for Off-Off Broadway landmark Caffe Cino. Having done "Balm in Gilead" and "The Rimers of Eldritch," part of my oh-so-edgy theatrical training, I was confounded by his transition to naturalistic clarity in "Hot l Baltimore," "The Fifth of July," "Talley's Folly" and "Burn This." But it works and it is spell-binding stuff.

Richard Leacock

Documentary director, producer, editor; cinematographer; pioneer of Direct Cinema and cinema verite -- via indieWIRE. A seminal figure in film history -- here's a great quote from a Mubi profile of him: "I hope to be able to create sequences, that when run together will present aspects of my perception of what took place in the presence of my camera. To capture spontaneity it must exist and everything you do is liable to destroy it... beware!'"

Huffington Post: "Finding Glory in Life in the Obit Page"

Via the Huffington Post, a salute to obits -- thanks to Pamela Tom for writing this!

Musa Juma Mumbo

Rhumba and Benga musician -- via allafrica.com.

Fred Sanford

MLB pitcher -- via voy.com.

Tom "Mac" McAvoy

Member of Softball Hall of Fame -- via the Albany Times-Union. He pitched in one major league game for the Washington Senators.

Glenn "Gos" Gostick

Baseball statistician -- via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Raymond Cohen

Violinist -- via the Guardian.

Peter Lennon

Journalist and documentary filmmaker -- via the Guardian. His only film, "Rocky Road to Dublin," was a Cannes selection . . .

Hafina Clwyd

Journalist -- via the Independent.

John Hoke

Inventor -- via the Washington Post.

Toshiko Takaezu

Ceramic artist -- via the New York Times.

Wolfgang Spier

Actor and director -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com.

Reuven Shefer

Theater and film actor -- via forums.somethingawful.com.

Elizabeth Taylor

Actress -- via ABC News. One of the great actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age, she grew up on camera in such films as "Lassie Come Home" and "National Velvet"; she went on to stellar performances in such films as "A Place in the Sun," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Her great beauty and complicated personal life overshadowed but did not obscure her talent.

Here's the first of many coming updates -- the New York Times obit.

Roger Ebert remembers her here.

Dorothy Lockwood Ballast Jarrett

"Mrs. Cheeseburger" -- via the Denver Post. Her husband, Louis Ballast, invented the cheeseburger in 1935. They and their five children sold them and many other delights at their restaurant, the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In at 2776 Speer Blvd. in Denver for decades.

Jon Lipsky

Playwright, director and educator -- via boston.com.

Ralph Mooney

Master of the steel guitar -- via the Los Angeles Times. An originator of the Bakersfield sound that invigorated country music in the 1960's; he co-wrote the classic "Crazy Arms."

Alfred Genovese

Oboist -- via boston.com.

Dorothy Young

The last living link to Houdini -- via the Telegraph. She was the great magician's last stage assistant; later, she was an actress, a dancer, and a writer.

Loleatta Holloway

Singer -- via the Los Angeles Times.

Tsutomu Katoh

Maker of electronic tools for musicians (Korg) -- via Synthtopia.com.

Ruth Adams

Accordionist and member of the World's Most Dangerous Polka Band -- via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Bob Christo

Bollywood villain -- via The Hindu.

Enzo Cannavale

Actor -- via tg.com.

Navin Nischol

Actor in film and television -- via The Hindu.

Argentino Luna

Folk musician -- via the Buenos Aires Herald.

Obituary billboards discouraged: Ghana

Via the Ghanian News Agency, "The Banmuhen of Gomoa Akyempim, Okofo Meresi Okai Annan, has appealed to local government assemblies to ban the erection of billboards with the portraits of departed individuals along streets and roads." More details -- via ghanamma.com.

Pinetop Perkins aka Joseph William Perkins

Bluesman and member of the Blues Hall of Fame -- via the New York Times.

Vitaly Yakovlevich Vulf

Art, drama, film critic, literary critic, translator, TV and radio broadcaster and critic -- via premier.gov.ru.

Stanley Herbert Ross aka Rosenthal

Sound engineer-producer -- via the Los Angeles Times. He co-founded Gold Star Recording Studio, which produced more than 100 Top 40 hits, including "La Bamba," "Tequila," "Good Vibrations," "Inna-Godda-Da-Vida," and "For What It's Worth."

Victor Blanco

Astronomer -- via the New York Times.

Pep Torrents

Actor -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com.

Benji Wilhoite

Actor and singer -- via voy.com.

Tom Dunbar

MLB outfielder for the Texas Rangers -- via the Augusta Chronicle.

Sherman Washington

Leader of the Zion Harmonizers and godfather of the Jazz Fest Gospel Tent -- via the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Sion Miloski

Surfer -- via Surfing Magazine.

Jim Seaver

Western Civilization professor and opera radio host -- via LJ World. His "Opera is My Hobby" weekly program ran from Sept. 19, 1952 to the first week of March in 2011 -- one of the longest-running radio shows in American history.

Brian Lanker

Photojournalist -- via the New York Times.

Turhan Shabazz aka Ray Casey

Author and poet -- via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Leonard "Bud" Lomell

Honored solider -- via the Independent. Pointed out to me by a very friendly and supportive gentleman over in Blighty. Thank you, sir!