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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, October 17, 2020

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Ed Benguiat, graphic and typeface designerBob Biggs, founder of Slash RecordsAnthony Chisholm, stage, film, and TV actorBernard S. Cohen with clients Mildred and Richard LovingFred Dean, 49ers pass rusherJoyce Dinkins, wife of NYC's first black mayor, David DinkinsConchata Ferrell, Emmy-nominated housekeeper on 'Two and a Half Men'Rhonda Fleming, colorful film actressJon Gibson, saxophonist and composer of Minimalist musicEitan Haber, adviser to Israeli PM Yitzhak RabinJoanna Harcourt-Smith, socialite follower of Timothy LearySusan Hendl, ballet dancer and teacherHerbert Kretzmer, lyricist for 'Les Miz'Marguerite Littman, inspiration for Truman Capote's 'Holly Golightly' characterTom Maschler, British publisher who conceived Booker Prize for fictionRoberta McCain, mother of late Sen. John McCain, 2008 GOP presidential candidateJoe Morgan, Cincinnati Reds Hall of FamerEdith O'Hara, founder of NYC repertory theaterChris Pendergast, long-term ALS survivorJames Redford, son of actor Robert RedfordBob Shanks, TV producer and executiveDr. Joyce Wallace, treated NYC prostitutes for AIDS

Art and Literature

Ed Benguiat (92) graphic designer known for his expertise in typefaces. Benguiat became one of the go-to designers of the second half of the 20th century, especially of typography. His hand was behind more than 600 typefaces, several of which bear his name. He helped to establish the International Typeface Corp., the first independent licensing company for type designers, and became its vice president. He also taught for almost 50 years at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. But it was his painstaking work designing new typefaces and modifying existing ones that made him a revered figure in the business, and that reached the public eye, although the public rarely knew his role. He designed logotypes for companies including Ford and AT&T and for Esquire, Look, McCall’s, and other publications. His typefaces were seen in movies including Super Fly (1972) and Planet of the Apes (1968). Benguiat died in Cliffside Park, New Jersey on October 15, 2020.

Marguerite Littman (90) literary muse from Louisiana who taught Hollywood to speak Southern but left her most enduring legacy as an early force in the fight against AIDS. Littman, who landed in Los Angeles at mid-20th century, counted among her closest friends writer Christopher Isherwood and his partner, artist Don Bachardy; Gore Vidal; and, famously, Truman Capote, said to have based his most famous character, Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, on her. In 1986 at the peak of the AIDS epidemic, Littman, then living in London, wrote to 100 friends asking them each to contribute £100 as a founding member of what became the AIDS Charitable Trust, a powerhouse of fundraising in Britain for more than 10 years. She died in London, England on October 16, 2020.

Tom Maschler (87) British publisher who fostered the literary careers of more than a dozen Nobel laureates and conceived the Booker Prize to promote fiction. Maschler was 26 in 1960 when he was named literary director of Jonathan Cape, the London publishing firm, a month after the death of its founder. He catapulted to early fame by buying the British rights to Joseph Heller’s debut novel, Catch-22, for a bargain £250 in 1961 (the equivalent of about $700 then and about $6,500 today), and in ‘62 by transplanting himself to Idaho shortly after the suicide of Ernest Hemingway to help Hemingway’s widow prepare the novelist’s memoir A Moveable Feast for publication. Among the authors Maschler discovered, incubated, or published who won the Nobel in Literature were Gabriel García Márquez, Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing, Mario Vargas Llosa, and V. S. Naipaul. He also published or nurtured Martin Amis, Jeffrey Archer, Julian Barnes, Bruce Chatwin, Roald Dahl, John Fowles, Clive James, Ian McEwan, Edna O’Brien, Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, and Kurt Vonnegut. Maschler died near his home in Luberon, in southeastern France, on October 15, 2020.


Business and Science

Dr. Joyce Wallace (79) Manhattan internist who treated prostitutes for AIDS and occasionally brought streetwalkers home with her when they had nowhere else to go. Among the first to report the lethal disease that became known as AIDS, Wallace tried to stop its spread among thousands of New York prostitutes. The underbelly of the city was her clinic. She drove around in a white Dodge van offering tests for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and distributing condoms besides running a needle-exchange program and trying to coax prostitutes off the streets and into shelters. Wallace died of a heart attack in New York City on October 14, 2020.


Education

Chris Pendergast (71) Long Island, New York teacher who defied the odds by surviving 27 years with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, leading marathon “rides for life” for hundreds of miles from his motorized wheelchair to publicize the plight of fellow patients and raise $10 million for research. Pendergast was a 44-year-old teacher of gifted students at Dickinson Avenue elementary school in East Northport, on Long Island, when his eyes and hands began twitching and he started feeling muscle spasms. In October 1993 he received the diagnosis: he had ALS, a degenerative disease that destroys muscle function and eventually the ability to breathe. The prognosis: Pendergast had three to five years to live. Instead he founded the ALS Ride for Life in 1997. In 1998 it mounted a 350-mile, two-week cavalcade from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to Washington, with Pendergast leading it from his wheelchair. The rides and other events raised some $10 million to establish the Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence at Stony Brook University on Long Island. Pendergast died in Miller Place, New York on October 14, 2020.


Law

Bernard S. Cohen (86) lawyer who won a landmark case that led to the US Supreme Court’s rejection of laws forbidding interracial marriage and later had a successful political career as a state legislator. Cohen and legal colleague Phil Hirschkop represented Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and a black woman who were convicted in Virginia in 1959 of illegally cohabiting as man and wife and ordered to leave the state for 25 years. Cohen and Hirschkop represented the Lovings as they sought to have their conviction overturned. It resulted in the Supreme Court’s unanimous 1967 Loving v. Virginia ruling, which declared antimiscegenation laws unconstitutional. Cohen died of Parkinson’s disease in Fredericksburg, Virginia on October 12, 2020.


News and Entertainment

Bob Biggs (74) entrepreneur who harnessed the energy of the Los Angeles punk scene to create the essential independent label Slash Records. Founded in 1978 as an extension of a successful punk magazine, Slash delivered to the national stage bands including X, Los Lobos, Germs, Blasters, Misfits, Violent Femmes, Faith No More, L7, and dozens more. Biggs sensed that what was happening at Hollywood clubs such as the Masque and the Whisky a Go Go marked the beginning of something special that might resonate beyond southern California. He died of Lewy body dementia, a debilitating neurological disease that causes problems with movement, cognition, mood, and behavior, on October 17, 2020.

Anthony Chisholm (77) award-winning actor, a familiar face to Center Theatre Group patrons and a performer celebrated for his work in several August Wilson productions. Chisholm, who played Burr Redding on the HBO series Oz and had a role in the Spike Lee film Chi-Raq, recently appeared in Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Tony-winning revival of Wilson’s Jitney, which ran in 2019 at the Mark Taper Forum. Over the years he appeared in several other CTG productions of Wilson’s works, including Gem of the Ocean, Radio Golf, and Two Trains Running. He was nominated for a featured actor Tony for his role as Joseph Barlow in Radio Golf. Chisholm died on October 16, 2020.

Conchata Ferrell (77) veteran character actress who played Berta on Two and a Half Men and appeared on dozens of other TV series and in films including Erin Brokovich, Edward Scissorhands, and Mystic Pizza. Although Ferrell’s credits were many, she was perhaps best known for her 12-season run on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, playing the brusque, insult-slinging, tough-loving housekeeper Berta. The role earned her two Emmy nominations for supporting actress in 2005 and ’07. She scored another nomination in 1992 for her role as entertainment lawyer Susan Bloom on Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher’s legal drama LA Law. Ferrell died of cardiac arrest in Sherman Oaks, California on October 12, 2020.

Rhonda Fleming (97) actress, the fiery redhead who appeared with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Ronald Reagan, and other film stars of the ‘40s and ‘50s. From her first film in color, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949) with Bing Crosby, Fleming became immensely popular with producers because of her vivid coloring: red hair and green eyes. More emphasis was placed on her looks than on her acting ability. Before Reagan entered politics, the actress costarred with him in Hong Kong, Tropic Zone, The Last Outpost, and Tennessee’s Partner. Fleming possessed a fine singing voice and later in her career sang onstage in Las Vegas and in a touring act. Married six times, she died in Santa Monica, California on October 14, 2020.

Jon Gibson (80) saxophonist and composer who played a foundational role in Minimalist music. Gibson, who also played flute and keyboards, was best known as a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble from its founding in 1968 through 2019. He participated in the first performances of watershed Glass works like “Music in Twelve Parts” and “Einstein on the Beach” and performed with Glass around the world until health problems prompted his departure. His mastery of circular breathing and other techniques made him a crucial asset to the development of Glass’s sound. Gibson died of a brain tumor in Springfield, Massachusetts on October 11, 2020.

Susan Hendl (73) dancer and longtime teacher at New York City Ballet who staged works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins and inspired generations of dancers. Hendl joined City Ballet in 1963 and was promoted to soloist in ’72. Her first principal role with the company was in 1970, as the Strip Tease girl in Balanchine’s “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.” Before retiring from the stage in 1983, Hendl danced in numerous Balanchine and Robbins ballets. Balanchine created roles for her in “Who Cares?” (1970), “Coppélia” (1974), “Le Tombeau de Couperin” (1975), and “Chaconne.” Robbins created roles for her in “The Goldberg Variations” (1971) and “Requiem Canticles” (1972). By the late ‘70s Hendl had taken on rehearsal duties, working on the first ballets by Peter Martins, who became ballet master-in-chief after Balanchine’s death at 79 in 1983. Hendl was an assistant to both Balanchine and Robbins in 1979 in their “Les Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” created as a piece d’occasion, starring Rudolf Nureyev, for the New York City Opera. Hendl died of renal failure in New York City on October 12, 2020.

Herbert Kretzmer (95) London theater critic who wrote the English lyrics to an all-but-forgotten French musical called Les Misérables and gave new life to what has become one of the world’s most successful theater productions. A South African journalist, Kretzmer wrote features and columns for London newspapers and became a theater critic for the Daily Express for 16 years, then a TV critic for the Daily Mail for eight more. Starting in 1960, he began developing a second career as a lyricist and songwriter. British producer Cameron Mackintosh asked Kretzmer to reimagine an obscure musical that had opened and closed after a few months in Paris five years earlier. Les Misérables was based on Victor Hugo’s tale of 19th-century student uprisings, with teeming streets, brothels, sewers, and characters who love, fight, and die at the barricades. And it was all sung, in French. Kretzmer’s task was not to literally translate the original libretto. What he tried to do instead was to capture, in English, the spirit of Hugo’s tale of revolution—the songs of angry men and women yearning for freedom. With the Kretzmer libretto, additional lyrics by James Fenton, and music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Les Misérables opened in London on October 8, 1985. That production ran continuously until March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered London’s theaters, making it the West End’s longest-running musical and the world’s second-longest, after The Fantasticks, which ran Off-Broadway for 42 years. Kretzmer died in London, England on October 14, 2020.

Edith O'Hara (103) started the 13th Street Repertory Co. in Greenwich Village in 1972 and made it a mainstay of New York's Off-Off-Broadway scene, keeping it going through the decades while countless other companies fell by the wayside. O’Hara had come to the city from Warren County in northwestern Pennsylvania, bringing a show she had developed at a small theater she founded there: a musical called Touch, about young people trying the communal life. In the age of Hair, it found an audience, enjoying a two-year run. O’Hara was smitten with the bohemian theater scene. When a building at 50 West 13th Street was advertised as being for rent and containing a small theater, she took a lease, and the 13th Street Rep was born. O’Hara died in her apartment above the theater on October 16, 2020.

James Redford (58) filmmaker, activist, and son of actor Robert Redford. James battled liver disease for more than 30 years. In an HBO documentary, The Kindness of Strangers (1999), he expressed gratitude for a liver transplant that saved his life. He produced the film and raised its $600,000 budget from foundations, corporations, and individuals. James and his father cofounded the Redford Center, a nonprofit focused on environmental filmmaking. They also established the James Redford Institute in 1995 for Transplant Awareness to raise money and increase awareness of the shortage of organ donors. James's liver disease returned in 2018, and he was waiting for another liver transplant when bile-duct cancer was discovered in '19. The younger Redford died in Los Angeles, California on October 16, 2020.

Bob Shanks (88) TV producer and executive who helped to define the talk show and news-magazine formats, working with Jack Paar and Merv Griffin and bringing Good Morning America, 20/20, and other programs to the air. Shanks began his TV career in the ‘50s, working as a talent booker and producer for The Tonight Show with Jack Paar, then as the longtime producer of The Merv Griffin Show. Shanks was more prominent in the ‘70s, when he was a vice president at ABC. In 1975 he and another ABC VP, Ed Vane, were given a tall assignment by Fred Silverman, newly named president of the network’s entertainment division: Come up with something to challenge the decades-long dominance of NBC’s Today. The result was Good Morning America. By the ‘80s the show was rivaling Today in the ratings. Shanks died of a stroke in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, four days after his 88th birthday, on October 12, 2020.


Politics and Military

Joyce Dinkins (89) former first lady of New York City. Her husband, David Dinkins, was the city’s first—and, to date, only—black mayor. During his term as mayor from 1990–93, Joyce Dinkins focused her efforts on the city’s children and promoted programs to improve their literacy and access to the arts. When her husband—a Democrat—became mayor, she retired from her job in the State Department of Taxation & Finance and took up her role as first lady. She died in New York City on October 11, 2020.

Eitan Haber (80) former journalist and adviser to Yitzhak Rabin who tearfully announced the death of the assassinated Israeli prime minister in 1995. Haber covered military affairs for Yediot Ahrono, an Israeli newspaper, for 25 years and appeared on Israeli TV and radio before becoming an adviser to Rabin, then defense minister, in 1985. Haber was later Rabin’s bureau chief and speechwriter after he was elected prime minister in 1992. When Rabin was gunned down by a Jewish ultranationalist at a peace rally on November 4, 1995, it was Haber who announced the news of his death outside a Tel Aviv hospital. He later returned to the media and had a career in business. He died of cancer in Jerusalem, Israel on October 14, 2020.

Roberta McCain (108) mother of the late Sen. John McCain who used her feisty spirit to help woo voters during his 2008 presidential campaign. At 96, Roberta McCain became the Republican senator’s secret weapon at campaign stops as evidence that voters need not worry about her son’s age—then past 70—as he sought the presidency. But in August 2018, it was the mother who ended up mourning the son when John McCain died of brain cancer. Despite being slowed by a stroke, Roberta McCain attended the memorial and burial services in Washington and Maryland for the middle son she called “Johnny.” She remained energetic and active into her 90s, traveling often with her identical twin sister Rowena, who died at age 99. Roberta attended the 2008 Republican National Convention, which nominated Sen. McCain for president. She died in Washington, DC on October 12, 2020.


Society and Religion

Joanna Harcourt-Smith (74) was a 26-year-old European socialite in Switzerland in 1972 when she met Timothy Leary (died 1996), the psychedelic Pied Piper to the flower children of the ‘60s. Leary was 52 and a fugitive from justice, having escaped from prison in California, where he was serving a 10-year sentence on drug charges. Harcourt-Smith was instantly enthralled—not just by his canary yellow Porsche 911 Targa but also by his mesmerizing eyes and his promise of psychological freedom. After weeks of LSD-fueled adventures, they headed for Afghanistan. But on landing, they were taken into custody by American agents and returned to the US, where Leary was again imprisoned. Harcourt-Smith stood by him and pressed for his release, which came three and a half years later. By then they had both changed, and soon afterward they broke up. Harcourt-Smith was 30 and ready to start her life over. She died of breast cancer in Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 11, 2020.


Sports

Fred Dean (68) pass rusher, a key part of the launch of the San Francisco 49ers’ dynasty. Dean was an undersized pass rusher who began his career as a second-round pick with the San Diego Chargers in 1975 and ended it in the Hall of Fame after being named an All-Pro twice and making four Pro Bowls. He was an All-Pro for the Chargers in 1980 but had his biggest impact after being traded to San Francisco during the 1981 season. The Niners were just starting to take off under coach Bill Walsh and quarterback Joe Montana, and Dean was the final piece they needed to become champions. The Niners won their first Super Bowl that year against Cincinnati. Dean played four more seasons in San Francisco, winning a second Super Bowl after the 1984 season. He was hospitalized last week with the coronavirus and was on a ventilator and in intensive care when he died in Canton, Ohio on October 14, 2020.

Joe Morgan (77) Hall of Fame second baseman who became the sparkplug of the Big Red Machine and the prototype for baseball’s artificial turf era. Morgan was a two-time National League Most Valuable Player, a 10-time All-Star, and won five Gold Gloves. He could hit a home run, steal a base, and disrupt any game. Most of all, he completed Cincinnati’s two-time World Series championship team, driving a club featuring Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Tony Perez to back-to-back titles. Morgan’s tie-breaking single with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 7 in 1975 gave the Reds the crown in a classic matchup with Boston, and he spurred a four-game sweep of the Yankees the next season. He was the league’s MVP both years, and his Hall of Fame teammates and manager readily acknowledged he was the one that got it all started. Morgan later suffered from a nerve condition, a form of polyneuropathy. He died in Danville, California on October 11, 2020.


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