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"

Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche

Lama -- via Shambala Sun.

Mihaela Ursuleasa

Pianist -- via the BBC.

Mavelikkara K Velukutty Nair

Master of the mridangam -- via Kerala News.

Karl Benjamin

Artist -- via the L.A. Times.




Don Bagley

Jazz bassist -- via asmac.org. He worked with many, many people, including Nat King Cole, Phil Woods, Stan Kenton, Julie London, Dexter Gordon, Zoot Sims, and Ben Webster.





Sepp Mayerl aka Blasl-Sepp

Mountaineer -- via the Austrian Times.

Carol "Siggy" Kendall

Children's author -- via the Lawrence Journal-World. Nicely written!

Adam Cullen

Artist -- via the Sydney Morning Herald.

Babu Ram Ishara aka Roshan Lal Sharma

Film director and screenwriter -- via the Times of India.

Edward Lee "Big Ed" Stevens

First baseman for the Dodgers and the Pirates -- via legacy.com and the Houston Chronicle. Interestingly, he was replaced in 1947 by Jackie Robinson; in 1948, he replaced Hank Greenberg.


John Keegan

Military historian, writer, and journalist -- via the Telegraph. Best known for his brilliant work "The Face of Battle."


Norman Alden aka Norman Adelberg

Character actor -- via the Hollywood Performer. He was in everything! This remarkable performer amassed 237 IMDb credits. He could be seen in the corner of your screen in everything from "The Untouchables" to "My Three Sons" to "Gunsmoke." He was the voice of Aquaman on "Superfriends." He played Coach Leroy Fedders, who drowned face-down in a bowl of Mary Hartman's soup on "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." He was Frank Heflin, the scientific mastermind who aided "Electrawoman and Dynagirl" on their cheesy Chicago kids' superheroine series. He was Lou, who ran in the diner in "Back to the Future," and the lackadaisical Cameraman Bill in "Ed Wood." He was always there, and he never phoned it in. A great professional!

Suzy Kalter Gershman

Writer and master shopper; author of the "Born to Shop" series -- via the New York Times.


Big Walter Smith

Blues singer and leader of the Groove Merchants -- via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Darryl Grant Cotton

Singer/songwriter, TV host, and actor -- via The Age.

Larry Hoppen

Singer, guitarist, and co-founder of pop music group Orleans -- via the Poughkeepsie Journal.





Franz West

Artist -- via the Guradian.

Marylou Cunningham Belles

Mets fan who got the last laugh -- via Yardbarker.


Oswald Paya Sardinas

Civil rights leader -- via the BBC.


Robert Ledley

Developer of the full-body computerized tomography (CT) scanner -- via the Telegraph.

Thelma Glass

Professor of geography and last surviving organizer of the Montgomery, AL anti-segregation bus boycott -- via the New York Times.


Gore Vidal

Author, playwright and gadfly -- via the New York Times. Always pithy and provocative, Vidal used his insider's perspective on the American political system to inform his contrarian work. Whether he was exploding the myths of American history in his novels, or writing fabulously well-written and -conceived essays, or just spouting off on the usual governmental insanity, he was a lot of fun to listen to and read. He thought of the American Empire as on its last legs, and our state on the verge of becoming a military dictatorship. He might be right. However, despite his cynicism, I believe that he espoused these thoughts in part to stimulate us to turn away from the seeming inevitable and act out of our higher selves.

UPDATE: August 2 -- the New York Times obituary referenced in my initial post contained several egregious errors -- via Gawker.





Aaron Michael Cox

Singer and songwriter -- via artistdirect.com.

Rita Miljo

Conservationist -- via the Daily Mail.

Joseph "Butterball" Tamburro

Radio DJ and hitmaker -- via the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Victor Aitay

Violinist, and long-time concertmaster with the Chicago Symphony -- via the Chicago Tribune.


Graham Jackson

Conductor -- via artsjournal.com.


William Staub

Engineer and inventor -- via the New York Times. Creator of the exercise treadmill.


Michael Lipton

Actor -- via the Classic TV History Blog.

Humayun Ahmed

Writer, playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker -- via dawn.com.


Guy McMinds

Tribal leader -- via the Daily World.

Bogdan Stupka

Actor -- via The Voice of Russia.

Tony Martin aka Alvin Morris

Singer and actor -- via the San Francisco Chronicle. He worked in radio (he was Burns and Allen's singer for a while), film ("The Big Store," "Til the Clouds Roll By," "Hit the Deck"), concerts and more.



Chris Marker aka Christian Fran├žois Bouche-Villeneuve

A great filmmaker, in a category by himself -- via the Guardian. In my opinion, one of the great directors of the 20th century.

He fought in the Resistance during World War II; he became a journalist and photographer. He fell in with the Left Bank Film Movement. He was the assistant director on Resnais' "Night and Fog."

Then he began making his own films. They are classified as documentaries, but defy definition, being meditations on themes, profound essays that open out to resonances that reverberate long after the movie is over. My two favorites are "La Jetee," which inspired Gilliam's "12 Monkeys," and "Sans Soleil."





A radical assembly of techniques -- filmed photographs, eruptions of fantasy, narrated commentary, quotation -- illustrate a seemingly random sequence of thoughts that ends up making constellations of connections out of widely disparate objects and events.

Notably, Marker worked with no budget whatsoever. For instance, for "Sans Soleil" he shot silent footage and laid in a soundtrack via an old audio cassette recorder. Making a virtue of poverty, he worked with what was at hand and turned out a remarkable series of absolutely unique and beautiful creations.

R.G. Armstrong aka Robert Golden Armstrong

Actor and playwright -- via We Are Movie Geeks. One of the busiest, most recognizable, and consistently professional character actors, particularly in the Western genre. What was he NOT in? He racked up 181 credits, including "Have Gun Will Travel," "The Rifleman," "Ride the High Country," "Wagon Train," "Rawhide," "Major Dundee," "Gunsmoke," and "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid." His greatest scene may be the one in the last film, in which he plays a vengeful lawman, Bob Ollinger, from whom Billy escapes. Billy kills him with a shotgun loaded with dimes, declaring drily, "Keep the change, Bob."


Mary Tamm

Actress -- via the Telegraph. Will be best remembered as Time Lady and companion Romana (the first of two to date) to Doctor Who on the long-running British sci-fi series.




Geoffrey Hughes

Character actor -- via the Guardian. Best remembered as Eddie Yeats in British TV's "Coronation Street" and Onslow in "Keeping Up Appearances."



Susanne Lothar

Actress -- via the Hollywood Reporter.






Lupe Ontiveros aka Guadalupe Moreno

Character actress -- via the New York Times.