Monday, 28 February 2011

Arnost Lustig

Czech author Arnost Lustig, a survivor of the Holocaust who later wrote about it in his fiction, has died aged 84.
Arnost Lustig
The writer, whose novels included A Prayer for Katerina Horowitzova and Darkness Casts No Shadow, had been suffering from cancer for five years.
Born in Prague in 1926, Lustig survived Auschwitz and two other Nazi camps before managing to escape from a train that was taking him to Dachau in 1945.
His novel Lovely Green Eyes was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2003.
Born into a Jewish family, Lustig was sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942.
He was transferred to Auchwitz and Buchenwald two years later before escaping in the spring of 1945.
Returning to Prague he took part in an anti-Nazi uprising. After the war he worked as a reporter, covering the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.
Lustig left Czechoslovakia during the Soviet occupation in 1968, eventually settling in the US.
He returned to Prague after the fall of Communism, remaining there until his death on Saturday.

Suze Rotolo

Bob Dylan's former girlfriend Suze Rotolo, the inspiration for some of the singer's love songs, has died at 67.
Rotolo also appeared with Dylan on the iconic cover of his 1963 breakthrough LP The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.
She inspired such songs as Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, Boots of Spanish Leather and Tomorrow Is a Long Time.
Her friend and Village Voice critic Jim Hoberman wrote that she died in her New York apartment "and the arms of her husband of 40 years, Enzo Bartoccioli".
Dylan met Rotolo, then 17, after a gig in 1961 and the couple stayed together for three years.
Dylan later wrote that meeting her "was like stepping into the tales of 1,001 Arabian nights", adding: "She had a smile that could light up a street full of people... a Rodin sculpture come to life."
Rotolo went on to become an artist and teacher. She also wrote a memoir of life in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, A Freewheelin' Time, which was published in 2008.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Dean Richards

Dean Richards celebrates scoring for Tottenham against Manchester United in 2001
Richards made 73 appearances for Spurs

Dean Richards, the former Wolves, Southampton, Bradford and Tottenham defender, has died at the age of 36.
Richards passed away on Saturday morning after losing his long-term battle with illness.
During his spell at Spurs Richards began to suffer from dizzy spells and headaches, and he was forced to retire in 2005 after taking medical advice.
In 2007 Richards was made youth-team coach at Bradford City, his hometown club and where he started his career.
A statement on the Bantams' website read: "The club are truly devastated to hear of the death of former Bradford City fans' favourite Dean Richards."
Richards' biggest transfer was his £8.1m move from Saints to Spurs in 2001, but he was to make only 73 appearances in his four years with the north Londoners.
At that time Richards was diagnosed with an inner ear infection and also underwent a scan for a brain tumour, but the results of the scan proved negative.
He was, however, advised it would be harmful to his health to continue playing and hung up his boots in March 2005.
He said at the time: "I am obviously deeply disappointed to be giving up the sport I love, but it's the only choice."
Richards beats Joe Cole to a header in 2001
Richards joined Southampton from Wolves in 1999
Richards began his career at Bradford, before joining Wolves, where he became a firm favourite.
The Black Country club said in statement on Saturday: "Everyone at Wolves is saddened to hear of the death of Dean Richards.
"Wolves would like to take this opportunity to send their condolences to the former Molineux defender's family and friends.
"There will be a tribute paid to the defender ahead of next Sunday's game with his former club Spurs."
After four years at Molineux, Richards moved to then-Premiership side Southampton, who were managed by current Cardiff boss Dave Jones.
Richards also impressed under Jones's successor Glenn Hoddle, who took the centre-back with him to White Hart Lane in 2001. The fee was the highest for a player with no senior international caps.
But Richards, who played for England's Under-21s on four occasions, was unable to overcome injuries and illness and his career was cut short at the age of 31.
Tottenham said in a statement: "Everyone at Tottenham Hotspur was saddened to hear of the death of our former player Dean Richards.
"We extend our sincere condolences to the family of Dean Richards at this very sad time."


More than 1,000 Auto Windscreens workers in Derbyshire and the West Midlands are to lose their jobs.
The Chesterfield-based windscreen repair firm went into administration on 14 February, suspending all operations.
Administrators from Deloitte announced the news at meetings in Birmingham and Chesterfield on Friday.
The accountancy firm had hoped to find a buyer for the UK's second biggest windscreen repair firm but said it had not been possible.
The company said a number of factors had come together to cause Auto Windscreens to call in the administrators.
'Urgent funding' One of its major customers terminated its contract and a major creditor served it with a winding-up petition.
This was on top of cash-flow problems caused by lower-than-expected sales revenues at the end of last year and delays in putting in place a new IT system, which was part of a major restructuring.
Auto Windscreens had already been in talks about raising additional funds, but an agreement could not be reached in time.
Chris Farrington, of Deloitte, said: "Our focus at the outset was to seek funding for a trading period and to run an intensive marketing period in an attempt to save the business as a going concern.
"We approached the major customers to seek urgent funding but unfortunately none of these customers were able to assist in the circumstances.
"In the absence of any funding and no going concern offer, we have had no alternative but to close the business, leading to 1,042 staff being made redundant."

Friday, 25 February 2011

Chris Dale

Chris Dale, who has died aged 49, was a 6ft 6in mountaineer with a passion for solo climbs among the hardest peaks of Scotland, Wales and the Alps. He was also an equally enthusiastic cross-dresser who went by the name of Crystal. 

His long reach allowed him to establish several bitterly tough routes which have rarely, if ever, been repeated. Where climbers today often prepare first ascents by abseiling down a rock face and practising the moves in stages, Dale preferred to lead "on-sight" and "ground-up", with no preparation. He specialised in bold climbs with minimal protection and loved all forms of adventure: besides climbing, he also explored the disused mines of Wales and solo caving excursions in France.
He was very active in Scotland, particularly in winter, soloing innumerable routes and making dozens of first ascents. His climbs ranged from a solo 1.5 mile traverse of Creag Meaghaidh's ridgeline, to steep ascents up ice-blasted rock on Lochnagar, near Balmoral. Dale revelled in the wilderness of such winter mountaineering. After one 12-hour climb up a new route at Beinn Eighe, in Torridon, he delighted in pointing out the constellations of the night sky.
In 2003 he climbed what he believed to be Britain's last unclimbed mountain, a rocky pinnacle called Dun Dubh – Gaelic for black fort – on the Quiraing mountains on the Isle of Skye. Lying two miles off the tourist path, the 1,000ft face took Dale an hour to ascend. "If you slipped, you would fall to the bottom," he reported afterwards. "It's quite precipitous. The rock is absolutely atrocious."
Besides mountains, Dale's other passion was women's clothing. On one occasion he was in drag when introduced to a Frenchman as "Chris Dale". The Frenchman misheard "Crystal", and the name for Dale's alter ego stuck.
As a mountaineer the name held other resonances for Dale. A keen rock hunter, he would often climb the north faces of the Aiguille du Grepon, Grand Charmoz and the Aiguille du Plan in the Alps, in search of precious crystals to sell. In recent years he was proud of his transvestism and Crystal became a familiar, if always memorable, sight at parties.
Friends joked that they did not want to meet the woman he bought the clothes from. In fact, they were purchased openly, which led to one unfortunate incident in a Scottish branch of Asda. Thrown out for acting suspiciously, Dale complained in writing, citing the sexual discrimination act, and received a grovelling apology and a substantial voucher. It was with no little pleasure that he returned to the store to try on some clothes, soliciting the help of the manager who had evicted him.
His appearance in drag at an annual mountain guides' dinner, however, proved a step too far. When an inebriated member groped under his skirt, the long reach that served Dale so well on rock was put to devastating effect. The disciplinary action that followed was severe; there were many who felt he was treated harshly.
Chris Dale, known as Big Chris, was born on January 14 1962 in Penrith and educated locally until he ran truant at 16. He turned up four days later having soloed the Old Man of Stoer, a 200ft sandstone sea stack off the west coast of Scotland. The achievement is all the more remarkable as he had no knowledge of the route, its grade, and carried no rope (so obliging him to solo back down). Furthermore he had only just taken up climbing. Having stretched his packed lunch to four days, he was particularly hungry by the time he returned to face the inevitable grilling from his father, a local policeman.
A few years later he travelled to Australia and quickly proceeded to make an impact with a bold first ascent up a 600ft sandstone face in the Blue Mountains, which he named Big Glassy. The upper half was entirely overhanging, on soft and crumbly rock, and the feat took three days. Success owed much to Dale's unwavering commitment and optimism while leading.
In the 1980s he belonged to the group of British climbers which made its home in the makeshift campsite of Snell's Field, Chamonix, beneath Mont Blanc. This was a period before climbing and extreme sports were fashionable; the climbers were rebellious and anarchic, and viewed as borderline criminal by the French Gendarmerie, which regularly raided the campsite.
Dale put up a handful of new routes in the region, and was a keen adherent to informal rules which attached great importance to the style of ascent. Hammering in pitons or leaving gear behind was frowned upon while using a drill to place bolts was a sacrilege. Purist methods were best – it was felt a climber should tackle a mountain armed only with courage and skill; a rope was just for backup.
Chris Dale was less traditional, however, when it came to naming trails which he had blazed. Mountaineers studying the guides to follow in his tracks still have to contend with the following routes: "Vive Les Unbathed Pinkos"; "Dog Breath in the Year of the Plague"; and "Brain Death and Bad Craziness".
He subsequently trained as a Mountain Guide, but was slow to qualify in the early 1990s owing to his difficulty with skiing. Like many British guides whose backgrounds lay in rock climbing, mastering the sport was an unhappy experience. After he passed his exams the first thing he did was throw his skis away, vowing never to strap on a pair again.
As a guide he stayed true to his climbing principles, eschewing popular routes up well-known mountains in favour of more challenging objectives off the beaten track. Clients with preconceived plans soon learned that they were there to support Dale's ambitions, not the other way round. Quite often, they were led on serious adventures. But blessed with both enormous climbing talent and a natural instinct for route finding, Dale inspired total confidence.
In recent years injury prevented him from guiding and he found employment introducing disadvantaged children to the outdoors and in a climbing shop. A climber's climber, he belonged to the sport's tradition of modesty and never boasted of his exploits: his Facebook page listed his interests as "fluff, pink things, sparkly stuff and mountains".
Chris Dale was diagnosed with cancer last year. He hoped a last-minute reprieve might allow him one final adventure, but it was not granted and he died on February 19. He married Anita Grey in 1987 but they later divorced. There were no children.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

Cyril Stein

Cyril Stein, who died on February 15 aged 82, was the long-serving chairman of Ladbrokes, which he built from a modest bookmaking enterprise into a multibillion-pound leisure conglomerate. 

Cyril Stein
Stein in his London office Photo: MICHAEL WEBB
Stein’s career began in an era when betting was confined to bookies’ enclosures on racecourses, and to credit accounts for well-to-do punters. After the industry was liberated by the legalisation of off-course betting shops in the early 1960s, he recycled the abundant cash flow from his rapidly growing high-street chain into hotels, real estate, bingo halls, football pools, retailing and casinos. It was a strategy which handsomely rewarded Ladbrokes’ investors over the 27 years of Stein’s chairmanship, from 1966 to 1993.
Ladbrokes’ casino activity was for some years the source of almost half its profits — but was almost the cause of Stein’s downfall in the late 1970s, when Gaming Board inspectors investigated allegations that the group’s West End casinos had been breaking the rules by enticing high-rollers from other clubs. Magistrates ruled that Ladbrokes’ managers were not “fit and proper”, an appeal judge called Ladbrokes’ behaviour “disgraceful”; some institutional shareholders withdrew support, and the company’s shares dived.
Always aloof in his dealings with the City, Stein then kept an even lower profile — but he was nothing if not tenacious, and as one colleague put it, his greatest strength was “his ability to make people leave a room with a different view from the one they held when they came in”.
He regained his stock market reputation by a coup in 1987 when he picked up 93 Hilton hotels outside the United States for a cash offer of £645 million. Within four years their value had almost quadrupled, and Stein abandoned his customary reticence to remark: “It’s not just the best deal I’ve made, it’s the best deal anyone has ever made.”
He went on to add the Scottish-based Stakis group of hotels and casinos for £1.2 billion. But other ventures in property and retailing, notably the Texas Homecare DIY chain and Laskys electrical stores, proved burdensome in the recession of the early 1990s, and the group’s debts ballooned. Stein’s reluctance to reveal more than a minimum of financial detail to the outside world made matters worse.
He still had his admirers — one rival in the betting business called him “a genius” — but pressure rose for him to step aside. He did so at the end of 1993, rarely to be seen again on the British corporate stage.
Cyril Stein was born in the East End of London on February 20 1928 into a family of migrants from Russia. His father, known as “Honest Jack”, worked for the London and Provincial Sporting News Agency, which relayed information between off-course bookmakers and racecourses.
Cyril was educated at West Ham Grammar School and ran his own small credit-betting office in the West End until he teamed up in 1956 with his bookmaker uncle Mark, who traded as Max Parker, to buy the venerable firm of Ladbrokes, founded in 1886.
Parker put up £100,000 to buy what was then a “turf accountant” to the gentry (and, allegedly, to members of the royal family betting under pseudonyms) staffed by Dickensian clerks at high ledger desks. One story had it that the purchase price was matched by unpaid debts from aristocratic punters which Cyril proceeded vigorously to collect, so that the company was actually bought for next to nothing.
As Ladbrokes’ managing director, Stein set out to raise its profile and broaden its customer base. As soon as off-track betting shops were legalised by the Macmillan government in 1961, he began to build a chain of what was eventually more than 1,000 high-street outlets. He also introduced fixed-odds betting on football matches, though fierce rivalry with the William Hill chain and an unexpectedly heavy payout almost broke Ladbrokes in December 1963.
Later, Stein also pioneered political betting, and offered a Ladbrokes tent at Test matches – enabling some Australian players, midway through the 1981 Headingley Test, to take advantage of 500-1 odds on the improbable England victory which transpired.
Ladbrokes was listed on the stock exchange in 1967 with a value of £2 million, and by the time of Stein’s departure it had a market capitalisation of more than £2 billion. Seeking a new business challenge in semi-retirement, he invested £10 million of his own fortune in buying and refurbishing the St James’s Club in London, which he sold at a handsome profit in 2005.
Cyril Stein was a successful racehorse owner and enjoyed high stakes on-course betting. “Yes, I do generally end up winning,” he told an interviewer. Legend had it that he was once been consulted by a Ladbrokes manager who had been asked to make a book on the name of the next Archbishop of Canterbury, but did not know where to start. “You want a start, I’ll give you a start,” Stein replied. “The Chief Rabbi’s 1,000 to one.”
As an observant Jew, Stein eschewed travelling to race meetings on the Sabbath, arriving on foot at Aintree (from a convenient Ladbrokes hotel) for the Grand National when it was under his sponsorship. He was never showy, and was essentially a workaholic micro-manager who kept his non-business life very private. His Who’s Who entry ran to only two lines.
Such spare time as he allowed himself was largely taken up with Jewish charities and causes. As a young man he had been involved in Left-wing Zionism, and during the Six-Day War in 1967 he installed a bank of telephones in his London boardroom and worked round the clock raising funds to support the Israeli effort.
He was later a vice-president of the United Joint Israel Appeal and a benefactor of the Jewish National Fund. He supported educational and environmental projects in Israel, and funded an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
He spent more time in Israel in later years and there was some expectation that he might enter politics there. He never did so, but occasionally expressed pungent views — including telling the then British Chief Rabbi, Lord Jakobovits, that his public remarks on the Palestinian refugee issue represented “foolishness ... beyond comprehension”.
Cyril Stein married, in 1949, Betty Young, the daughter of another bookmaker. She survives him with their two sons and a daughter.

Christian Lambertsen

Christian Lambertsen, who died on February 11 aged 93, developed an early model of the frogman’s closed-circuit rebreather, the Lambertsen Amphibious Respirator Unit (Laru), a device used by the American Office of Strategic Services in the Second World War; in 1952 he co-wrote a paper describing his “Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus”, which he shortened to “scuba”


Christian James Lambertsen was born on May 15 1917 at Westfield, New Jersey. After taking a Science degree from Rutgers University, he enrolled as a medical student at the University of Pennsylvania.
Christian Lambertsen
Christian Lambertsen
A keen amateur diver, Lambertsen was convinced that he could design a more flexible device than the heavy metal helmets tethered by hoses to boats on the surface that were standard issue before the war. He began working on his breathing apparatus during his vacations from Rutgers, making contraptions rigged with hoses and a bicycle pump.
His breakthrough came at medical school when he incorporated carbon dioxide filters from anaesthesia equipment. The Laru let divers swim freely and invisibly, and consisted of a mask, breathing tubes, a canister for absorption of exhaled carbon dioxide, a breathing bag and a controllable oxygen supply, all mounted on a canvas vest. The carbon dioxide filters enabled the diver to re-breathe the air he exhaled while underwater, which meant there were no telltale bubbles.
The Office of Strategic Services (the CIA’s forerunner) tested the new system by sending OSS swimmers to infiltrate the heavy defences of the US Navy at Guantanamo Bay and blow up an old barge. The mission was a success, a secret government report concluded, because “Navy sound detection gear did not reveal the presence of underwater swimmers”. The OSS subsequently recruited Lambertsen to establish the first cadres of US operational combat swimmers and to train special underwater forces deployed in Burma.
After the OSS was disbanded in 1945, Lambertsen began demonstrating the Laru to other services, but the device never took off as a commercial product. In 1943 Jacques Cousteau had invented the Aqua-Lung, an improved scuba system which allowed swimmers to dive deeper and stay underwater for longer.
Lambertsen joined the medical faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946 and became a professor of pharmacology in 1952. In the 1950s and 1960s he developed an advanced version of his underwater breathing system which was used by US Navy special operations units until the 1980s. In 1968 he established the Institute for Environmental Medicine, which studies diving-related diseases and explores how human beings can survive in hostile environments. In 1992 he patented inergen, a commercial fire-suppressant.
His wife, Naomi, predeceased him and he is survived by four sons.


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Nicholas Courtney

Veteran Doctor Who actor Nicholas Courtney, best known for playing Brigadier Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart, has died in London at the age of 81.
The series regular passed away after a short illness, his agent told the BBC. He had been suffering from cancer.
The actor appeared on screen opposite many different Doctors and worked with some more on Doctor Who audio stories.
Former Doctor Tom Baker remembered him as "a wonderful companion" with "a marvellous resonant voice".
"Of all the characters in Doctor Who there is no doubt that he was the most loved by the fans," he wrote on his official website.
'Nick' Courtney had already appeared in such series as Escape and The Saint before making his first Doctor Who appearance in 1965, playing a character named Bret Vyon.
He returned to the show in 1968 to make his first appearance as the Brigadier opposite the second Doctor, Patrick Troughton.
The stalwart of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) would periodically return over the next two decades before his final appearance in 1989.
In 2008 he reprised his Brigadier role in Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Nicholas Courtney in The Sarah Jane AdventuresIn 2008 he appeared in an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures
Courtney appeared on other shows during his Doctor Who years, including The Avengers, Callan, The Champions and Minder.
Afterwards he had parts in such popular dramas as The Bill, Casualty and Doctors and was recently heard on BBC Radio 7 series The Scarifyers.
In 1997 he became honorary president of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society in recognition of the 107 episodes in which he appeared.
League of Gentlemen star and Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss remembered the actor as "a childhood hero and the sweetest of gentlemen".
Impressionist Jon Culsaw said Courtney was "a brilliant actor and warm, charming man", while Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright paid tribute to "a true gent".

Eddie Fowlie

Eddie Fowlie, who has died aged 89, was David Lean’s right-hand man and “dedicated maniac” on many of the director’s epic films, among them Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). 

Eddie Fowlie
Image 1 of 2
The Ice Palace in 'Dr Zhivago', which was filmed in Spain: 'The snow isn?t real,' Fowlie said. ' It?s white marble dust' Photo: KOBAL COLLECTION

His roles ranged from property master and locations scout to special effects coordinator. Most famously, perhaps, he created the ice palace in Doctor Zhivago, covering miles of Spanish countryside in fake snow at the height of summer to create a wintry Siberian landscape.
For Lawrence of Arabia he created quicksand in the desert; by then he had blown up the bridge on the River Kwai for the film of the same name (1957), even driving the train that crashes into the river below in the picture’s final moments.
Fowlie would not work in a studio, and helped Lean to achieve the striking images on location for which his films were famous. For Lawrence of Arabia, for example, he turned the Andalusian fishing village of Carboneras in Spain into the coastal town of Aqaba. But Fowlie always insisted that if audiences could detect such manipulation, he had fallen short.
“If you know it’s a special effect, it’s failed,” he said. “Doctor Zhivago was shot in Spain. All of it. The snow isn’t real, I came up with that. It’s white marble dust. Thousands of tons of the stuff. It was surprisingly cheap. With Doctor Zhivago, the whole film is a special effect.”
A tall, powerfully-built man with beetling eyebrows, Fowlie occasionally stood in as a body double. He was particularly proud of having doubled – clad in a bikini – for a young Joan Collins in underwater scenes of Our Girl Friday (1953). As an effects man he also realised the gory spectacle of John Lennon (playing Private Gripweed) examining his own innards after being disembowelled by an enemy mortar in Richard Lester’s How I Won The War (1967).
Fowlie worked on three further films with Lester: The Three Musketeers (1973), Royal Flash (1975) and Robin and Marian (1976). In The Three Musketeers, Fowlie took against the star Oliver Reed when he criticised one of Fowlie’s swords, saying it was not properly balanced. Fowlie took it away, reappeared moments later and handed Reed the same sword – which the actor pronounced to be much better.
Famously irascible, bloody-minded and rude, Fowlie was often involved in confrontations with the all-powerful screen unions. He himself never joined a union, and consequently seldom worked in Britain. He was singularly unimpressed by reputations, and turned down an offer to work with the director Stanley Kubrick, knowing that Kubrick was unpopular with his crews.
Nor was he overawed by Hollywood’s biggest stars, an approach he made abundantly clear to Robert Mitchum. Mitchum’s response was to urinate over Fowlie as he tried to set some dynamite around the actor’s feet for an effect in Ryan’s Daughter (1970).
Edward George Fowlie was born on August 8 1921 and brought up at Teddington, Middlesex. His first job was building biplanes at the local Hawker aircraft factory, but the work was not to his liking and he served in the Scots Guards for 18 months during the Second World War before being invalided out with an injured leg.
In hospital, pondering what to do with his life, he chatted to a soldier in the next bed who had worked in a film studio before the war. On his discharge Fowlie landed a job as a set dresser in the props department at the Warner Bros studio at Teddington, and worked on his first film, Captain Horatio Hornblower, RN (1951), starring Gregory Peck.
He started to specialise in special effects and explosives and, in 1956, on the set of The Bridge on the River Kwai, struck up a friendship with Lean, which lasted until the director’s death in 1991. Lean was immediately impressed by Fowlie’s can-do approach – the fact that he would hack back bits of jungle to clear the way for the camera, or fix foliage where none existed before if it was needed for a shot. In short, he was an all-round “Mr Fixit”. Lean said Fowlie numbered among his “dedicated maniacs”.
“Fowlie sorted out misunderstandings,” wrote Kevin Brownlow in his biography of David Lean in 1996. “[He] put pressure on recalcitrant members of the crew, did stunts when stunt men proved reluctant, and when David was sunk in gloom he was able, by a sort of sixth sense, to put into words what was bothering him.”
In the late 1970s, when Fowlie and Lean were scouting locations in Tahiti for a remake of the film Mutiny on the Bounty, Fowlie stumbled on the whereabouts of an anchor which had belonged to Captain Cook, and managed to have it raised and brought ashore. Lean made a television film about the discovery, Lost and Found: The Story of Cook’s Anchor (1979).
Fowlie retired to Spain, where he built and ran a hotel. With the journalist Richard Torné he recently completed his autobiography, David Lean’s Dedicated Maniac (2010).
Having filled no fewer than five different roles during the making of Doctor Zhivago, Fowlie was asked by the MGM studio which single on-screen credit he would prefer. Typically he replied that he could not care less as long as he was paid, so the studio cited him for special effects, believing that he stood a good chance of being nominated for an Oscar. Fowlie always maintained that he missed out because his effects, including the marble snow, were so realistic that no one imagined they were not real.
Eddie Fowlie, who died on January 22, is survived by his third wife, Kathleen, and by two daughters from his first marriage.

Moyra Bond

Moyra Bond, who died on February 9 aged 95, was the author of the Bond Assessment Papers, which contain sample tests in English, Mathematics and Verbal Reasoning. 

 Moyra Bond
Moyra Bond

The books have sold millions of copies worldwide since first being published in 1964, but until recently readers knew their author only as JM Bond, unaware even that she was a woman.
An article in The Times in 2001 about how to write a bestseller mentioned Bond alongside JK Rowling and Joanna Trollope: “JM Bond is the creator of such titles as 3rd Year Mathematics Assessment Papers, a sequel to the equally gripping 2nd Year Mathematics Assessment Papers. He [sic] is the living proof that there are many ways to achieve bookshop stardom.”
Jean Moyra Bell was born in Norfolk on July 21 1915, the daughter of a laundry manager, and educated locally. She did not attend university, and her first employment was a clerical job in Barclays Bank. Her main claim to fame in those days was swimming, in which she represented both Barclays and the county of Norfolk.
In 1938 she married Raymond Bond, also a Barclays employee, with whom she had two sons. They moved to Swanage, Dorset, in 1946 and Moyra decided to train as a teacher, qualifying at Weymouth College.
Her husband died in 1956 and, two years later, after several jobs teaching Mathematics, she raised the money to buy Avalon, a girls’ preparatory school at West Kirby on the Wirrall. She soon developed this into one of the most successful schools in the north-west.
While the whole country had to contend with the unpopular 11-plus examination, her own local authority also operated an additional 10-plus exam so that pupils’ progress over their final two years in junior school could be assessed. As this extra test was unique to Cheshire, however, there were no books of sample questions to help teachers and pupils prepare for it.
Moyra Bond made up her own questions, writing them on slips of paper and reading them out to her classes. She developed these into a series of test papers and sent them off to Nelson’s (now Nelson Thorne), the educational publisher. Nelson’s not only decided to publish them but also asked her to develop a comprehensive range of books for pupils aged eight to 11. English and Verbal Reasoning were included as well as the original Mathematics.
The first books were published in 1964. At that time, the publishers felt that a female author of a school textbook might deter possible buyers; her name was given as the genderless JM Bond, and the title page described her as “Principal” rather than “Headmistress” of Avalon School. It was not until 2007 that she was “outed” as female.
The books have been through several editions as Moyra Bond revised them to keep them relevant to successive generations of students. More recently, the books have been thoroughly updated (in some cases, by other writers) to conform with today’s National Curriculum. The books are now known as Bond Assessment Papers and have sold as far afield as Australia, Canada, Indonesia and South Africa .
“What with developing new titles and constantly updating existing ones, they have taken over a large part of my life,” Moyra Bond said in 1974. “But it has all been worthwhile.” By the end of her life the books were earning her around £100,000 a year.
She found her inspiration for her questions almost everywhere: calculating the change when buying things in shops; small “adventures” such as her car breaking down; and listening to typical conversations among her pupils. Friends and family members found their names appearing in her questions.
She was headmistress of Avalon from 1958 until 1981, when she retired from teaching. In retirement she was able to spend more time on another of her passions, photography. She settled first at Heswall in the Wirral, then moved to Surrey to be near her family.
Moyra Bond is survived by her two sons.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Ron Hickman

Ron Hickman, who died on February 17 aged 78, invented the Black & Decker Workmate, the portable workbench that for nearly 40 years has encouraged millions to try their hands at do-it-yourself. 


He also worked as a car designer for Lotus, and in the 1960s designed the original two-seater Lotus Elan sports car, made famous on television when Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers drove a model in powder-blue.
Ron Hickman
Ron Hickman with the Workmate
Hickman’s inspiration for the Workmate came in 1961, when he was sawing sheets of plywood to make some new wardrobes for his bungalow. He was using a good dining-room chair as a sawhorse and accidentally nicked it with his saw, incurring the wrath of his wife .
“I always had this idea in the back of my mind for a new style of workbench,” he said, “so I built a prototype.” He rented a room above a 200-year-old wooden barn at Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, and spent hundreds of hours perfecting his invention, which was light, useful and cheap. He named it the Workmate.
After a patent agent who lived in the same village assured him that his invention could be legally protected, Hickman approached several well-known manufacturers, but to no avail. Spear and Jackson, Wilkinson and Salmens were just a few of the non-takers; while the Stanley company — famous for planes and drills — loftily informed him (in a letter which he was pleased to note later was dated April 1 1968) that sales would be “measured in dozens rather than hundreds”.
To date, worldwide sales of the Workmate exceed 100 million.
At first even Black & Decker turned Hickman down. But eventually, in 1972, the firm agreed to market the invention in Europe. The early model had a cast aluminium H-frame, but later these were replaced by frames of stamped steel. The Workmate went on sale in the United States in 1975.
A South African, Ronald Price Hickman was born on October 21 1932 at Greytown, Natal, where his father was a bookkeeper. On leaving school he worked as a court clerk at Pietermaritzburg, but left South Africa in 1954 with £34 in his pocket and sailed to England, hoping to work in the motor manufacturing industry as a designer.
In London he initially stayed at the Overseas Visitors’ Club in Earls Court, where he met for the first time his future wife, Helen, a fellow South African who had also been working in Pietermaritzburg.
After spending three years as a styling modeller with Ford, Hickman moved to the Lotus company, run by Colin Chapman, and quickly became its design director. He headed the team that designed the trendsetting Elan sports car, with its fibreglass body and retractable headlights. This was followed by the Lotus Cortina, Lotus Europa and Elan Plus 2, a design of which he was especially proud.
In 1967 Hickman left to work in Hertfordshire on prototypes for the seating in the main lounges of Cunard’s new flagship, QE2.
He set up his own company, Mate Tools, remortgaging his bungalow to raise capital, and continued to refine his Workmate design. In the face of rejection from all the big manufacturers, he persuaded a DIY magazine to let him show a prototype in a corner of the magazine’s stand at the 1968 Ideal Home Exhibition at Olympia.
Within a year he had sold 1,800 Workmates, and in 1970 Black & Decker relented, agreeing a royalties and copyright deal two years later.
The worldwide success of Hickman’s product inevitably led to imitations and lawsuits. In 1977 a similar product appeared in the United States, manufactured by Emerson Electric and sold by Sears, Roebuck, the world’s largest mail order company, whose in-house lawyers had advised that “the Workmate patents are paper tigers”. Hickman sued and won.
In 1982 Hickman retired an extremely wealthy man. At Villa Devereux, the house which he designed himself on Jersey, he kept a small collection of vintage cars, including a 1931 Cadillac V-16 drophead coupé built for a maharaja.
In 1994 he was appointed OBE for services to industrial innovation.
Ron Hickman married, in 1959, Helen Godbold, who survives him with their son and two daughters.

Nobutoshi Kihara

Nobutoshi Kihara, who died on February 13 aged 84, was the engineering genius behind some of Sony’s greatest hits: transistor radios and televisions, camcorders and other bantamweight electro nics that made the company a world-leader and “Made in Japan” a stamp of distinction. 

Nobutoshi Kihara
Nobutoshi Kihara displaying Sony's PV-100 video tape recorder, produced in 1963 Photo: AFP/GETTY
Nicknamed “Sony’s treasure” and “godlike” by his fellow engineer (and Sony’s co-founder) Masaru Ibuka, Kihara was credited with being able to create a handmade model of anything within 24 hours. His innovations in magnetic recording and playback technologies laid the foundations for today’s iPod-toting, YouTube-watching generation.
He was born in Tokyo in 1926 into a middle-class family with engineering in its blood. During the war he attended Waseda University, where he first came in contact with Ibuka, who was teaching there. The experience encouraged him to apply for a job at the nascent Sony, whose headquarters was being established amid the ruins of bombed-out Tokyo.
At the time Kihara was building his own radios as a hobby and he was soon involved in the field that would make Sony a global household name and Japan the world’s leading electronics maker — miniaturisation.
Tape recorders and radios were then cumbersome, power-thirsty and too expensive for widespread use. When Sony’s founders realised that to attract customers they needed to shrink the devices, make them affordable and reduce their power consumption, they called on Kihara .
Though a simple concept, this was extremely difficult to achieve. Many suppliers of components complained that it was impossible to shrink parts to the extent that finished devices could be carried around effortlessly. But, urged on by Kihara, many eventually managed it, spawning an engineering revolution not just at Sony but also across a whole network of Japanese companies.
After developing Japan’s first tape recorder and magnetic recording tape, a compact audio cassette and Japan’s first transistor radio, Kihara addressed another major challenge of the emerging consumer electronics field — creating videotape and videotape recorders (VTR), and then (most difficult of all) the technology to record broadcasts in colour.
Kihara came up with a VTR prototype in 1958 and then developed a slimmed-down version for the home market in 1965, which led to the invention of the cassette-like Betamax system 10 years later. Soon video recorders were in every home.
Betamax was deemed a triumph for Kihara and appeared poised to become another coup for Sony. Unfortunately for the company, which had by then grown to be the world’s leading electronics firm, a rival format, VHS, suddenly emerged to dominate the market. Not only was VHS cheaper, it could also record for up to two hours, compared to Betamax’s one hour. Sony was faced with its first big flop, a defeat made more painful for Kihara because he was sure that his technology was superior. “My blood boils,” he wailed.
Despite this setback, Sony was entering a golden period. The Sony Walkman, forerunner of the iPod, became a worldwide sensation. But while Kihara is sometimes erroneously referred to as “Mr Walkman”, he in fact only laid the transistorisation and miniaturisation groundwork necessary to realise the audio cassette player.
Instead, he drew on his disappointment with Betamax to produce compact, lightweight VTRs, which also featured built-in cameras – thus the camcorder age was born. Such was Kihara’s vision that Sony’s current head, Howard Stringer, insisted recently that the company still maintains “an unassailable position in the area of video technology” due to his work.
Before retiring in 2006, Kihara established the Sony-Kihara Research Centre in Tokyo, a laboratory dedicated to taking image processing further into today’s digital applications. “My message has always been to break through what is common sense and common knowledge, and make the impossible possible,” he once said in an interview.
He is survived by his wife and three children.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Perry Moore

Perry Moore
Perry Moore, a co-producer of The Chronicles of Narnia film franchise and the author of a novel about a gay superhero, has died aged 39.
Police said he was found unconscious in the bathroom of his Manhattan home on Thursday and died later in hospital. Foul play is not suspected.
He produced all three Narnia films and wrote an illustrated book to accompany the first.
His 2007 book Hero won a Lambda Literary Award best novel prize.
Police said the cause of death would be determined by the city's medical examiner.
In an interview on his website, the American author said he wrote Hero because he had a "borderline-crazy belief in the power of literature to change the universe".
"Like most young people, I grew up feeling alienated and different - for very specific reasons in my case - in a place that didn't value differences," he said.
Moore also co-directed 2008 film Lake City, starring Sissy Spacek.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Alfred Burke

Alfred Burke, the character actor who died on February 16 aged 92, is most widely remembered as the down-at-heel private detective Frank Marker in Public Eye, televised in the 1960s and 1970s.

Alfred Burke
Alfred Burke as Frank Marker in 'Public Eye' Photo: REX
Working initially from dingy offices in south London, Marker earned a pittance as the lonely, footslogging and fallible gumshoe, who was conceived as a British version of Raymond Chandler’s hero Philip Marlowe.
Marker’s trade was in missing persons, thefts, divorces and blackmail; and things would often go wrong. In a 1960 episode Marker was caught in possession of stolen jewellery. When he was sent to prison, indignant fans wrote demanding his release. Burke’s wry study of the dogged, low-profile sleuth kept the nation entertained for nearly 100 episodes over a period of 10 years.
In a career spanning more than half a century, Burke divided his talent between films, television and the stage, where he worked mostly in the classics.
He was a sensitive exponent of cold, unsympathetic or even dangerous characters, notably as villains in British films and on television in productions such as The Borgias and Pinter’s The Birthday Party.
Alfred Burke was born in Peckham, south London, on February 28 1918 and educated at Leo Street Boys’ School and Walworth Central School.
He then trained for the stage at Rada. His professional career began in 1939 at the Barn Theatre, Shere, Surrey, where he made his debut in The Universal Legacy. As a conscientious objector, he spent the war years working on the land.
Then came spells in rep, and it was for Birmingham Rep that Burke went on to create a minor sensation with the Old Vic. In Douglas Seale’s famous production of the three parts of Henry VI (Wars of the Roses), he had several minor parts, and in 1953 it was his almost hysterical enactment of Henry Beaufort’s death throes which caught attention.
“Raving in retribution,” as one critic put it, “contorted of face and with talons clawing the air, he died horribly as the Cardinal among the lighted candles of his own altar.”
Burke spent the next 11 years in films and television with occasional spells on the regional stage. Feature films included The Man Inside, The Man Upstairs, Law and Disorder, Model for Murder, The Angry Silence, Moment of Danger, The Trials of Oscar Wilde and The Small World of Sammy Lee.
Back on the London stage in 1964 he played the Pastor to Trevor Howard’s Captain in Strindberg’s The Father (Piccadilly) before two seasons at John Neville’s Nottingham Playhouse. There he found one of his best parts in Charles Wood’s Fill The Stage With Happy Hours as the seedy, despairing manager of a tatty provincial rep forever at loggerheads with his ex-actress wife turned barmaid (Barbara Jefford). The play transferred to the Vaudeville in 1967.
For the film studios at that time he appeared in Children of the Damned, The Nanny, The Night Caller and Guns in the Heather, and established himself in Public Eye.
In 1970 he played the title role in Pirandello’s Henry IV (Leeds Playhouse and Edinburgh Festival) and in 1971 he proved a highly sonorous Becket in Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral (at Worcester Cathedral).
He won praise for his performance as Professor Serebryakov in Michael Elliott’s revival of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya at the Royal Exchange, Manchester (1977), and later returned to Chekhov in The Seagull (Lyric, Hammersmith, and Queen’s 1985, and Barbican, 1991).
Among his other stage roles were in Edward Bond’s Restoration (1989); Gonzalo to John Wood’s Prospero in The Tempest (Barbican); Solness’s father in Ibsen’s The Master Builder (Barbican, 1989); Troilus and Cressida (The Pit, 1991-92); As You Like It (Barbican, 1993); All’s Well That Ends Well (The Pit, 1993); Brecht’s Life of Galileo (Almeida, 1994); Ibsen’s Peer Gynt (Young Vic, 1995); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Barbican, 1995); and Measure for Measure (Barbican, 1995).
His many film credits included The Constant Husband, Yangtse Incident, The Man Who Finally Died One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. On television he appeared in The Brontes of Haworth, Tales of the Unexpected and Treasure Island .
Alfred Burke is survived by his wife, Barbara, by their two sets of twins, and by his partner of the last 25 years, Hedi Argent.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

John Strauss

Tom Hulce as Mozart  
Amadeus won the best picture Oscar in 1985
Composer and music editor John Strauss, who worked on films including the Oscar-winning Amadeus, has died at the age of 90 in Los Angeles.
Strauss, who had Parkinson's disease, died at a nursing home on Monday night, the Los Angeles Times reported.
As a composer, his best-known work in the US was the theme tune to 1960s comedy Car 54, Where Are You? which he co-wrote with show creator Nat Hiken.
He also worked as music editor on a number of Woody Allen films.
They included Take the Money and Run as well as Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask).
In the 1984 biopic Amadeus - the story of the rivalry between composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri - he was music co-ordinator and also briefly appeared in the film as a conductor.
He also won a Grammy as producer of the film's soundtrack album.
The Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said Strauss's diverse credits "portrayed his versatility and wide range of skills as well as his notable contributions to the arts".
In 1978, Strauss shared a sound editing Emmy for his work on TV film The Amazing Howard Hughes.

Mario Traverso

Mario Traverso, who died on January 4 aged 94, was a leading officer in what is generally considered to be the last successful battlefield cavalry charge, on the Russian front at Isbuschenskij on August 24 1942; after the war he created a highly successful knitwear company 

There, on the evening of August 23, an Italian patrol encountered a Soviet rearguard of 2,000 men supported by mortars and machine-guns. The regiment’s monocled commanding officer, Count Alessandro Bettoni, winner of two Olympic golds in equestrianism, ordered his men to take defensive positions before settling down to dine off the regimental silver.
The following morning, after breakfast, Bettoni gave the order to attack across a plain thick with sunflowers. Officers, wearing red neck ties, slipped on white gloves for the occasion. They wielded captured Cossack swords, which were heavier, and thus more destructive, than Italian sabres.
Such was the thirst to take part in what was – even then – recognised as an unusual event, that Traverso’s commander rode off to join the four cavalry squadrons, each of 150 men, which formed the main thrust of the attack.
Traverso was left in charge of the fifth (machine-gun) squadron, which was the first to advance, laying a thick field of fire from the front and centre of the Italian position directly into two lines of the 812th Siberian Infantry Regiment. Around Traverso, the other Italian squadrons formed up at a walk, before breaking into a trot, canter and finally an all-out gallop. As they set off the battle cry went up: “Sabres. To hand. Charge!”
What followed proved to be a textbook mounted attack. The second squadron broke right, before turning sharply to hammer through the Siberians’ left flank, and then wheeling around again to press the advantage from behind, hurling hand grenades into the disintegrating enemy line. Bettoni then ordered the fourth squadron to attack head on, and the battle wore down into brutal hand-to-hand fighting, with many of the Savoy having dismounted.
At this crucial point the third squadron launched a second diagonal attack, similar to that which had opened the battle, and Soviet resolve crumbled. As the smoke cleared, their losses stood at 150, with a further 500 captured. The Savoy Cavalry had lost fewer than 40 men.
“You were magnificent,” a German officer remarked to the Italians afterwards. “We no longer know how to do these things.”
Mario Traverso was born in Naples on September 24 1916. His father was from a line of officers in the Regiment of Grenadiers, his mother from the Avolio family, famous as society milliners and dressmakers. Mario was taught privately, learning English from an Irish governess, until attending Naples University in 1934.
After receiving a doctorate in Business Studies from Bari University in 1939, Traverso joined the lift manufacturer Otis. An Anglophile, he was disappointed when Mussolini, of whom he was a great supporter, failed to ally Italy with Britain as war loomed.
Not being tall enough for the Grenadiers, he entered the cavalry corps in Rome, passing out top of his class into the Savoy Cavalry, an elite dragoon regiment with a proud history of service to the House of Savoy. Having been a young fascist, he was at first met with some suspicion by the traditionally monarchist officers there, but they soon learnt that he was more royalist than blackshirt.
In the summer of 1941 the regiment, part of the Italian Army’s three mobile divisions, travelled into Moldova by train and then commenced a 1,000-mile advance on horseback through Ukraine while under constant artillery and air attack. Winter set in by late October and, as temperatures plunged to 50 degrees below, both men and horses suffered bitterly.
The next summer’s offensive marked a high point for the Savoy Cavalry, but their heroics on the Don were soon to be forgotten in the general retreat that followed Stalingrad. In January 1943 they trekked 1,200 miles northwards to Gomel, now in Belarus, where those who remained alive entrained for Poland and Austria, not reaching Italy until April. At the time of the Isbuschenskij charge, 290,000 Italians were in Russia. Six months later 90,000 were dead, and a further 60,000 captured.
As the regiment regrouped, Italy surrendered, and Traverso found himself in charge of just eight others, including the regimental chaplain. After some weeks of uncertainty, and with no command structure intact, he gave the order to disband.
He eventually made his way to Milan, where he joined his cousin Giorgio Avolio, who was rebuilding the family millinery business. Finding that hats were no longer popular, however, they started to diversify into outerwear. The two cousins formed a partnership in late 1945, with Traverso concentrating on knitwear.
By 1951 this side of the business had 25 staff, and three years later the cousins decided to split, allowing each to develop his business as he chose.
Traverso’s business flourished under the “Marius” brand, with ranges in silk, cotton, cashmere and angora. From 1948 it supplied the knitwear elements for the ready-to-wear collections of Jacques Fath and Balenciaga and, subsequently, Dior, Schiaparelli, Givenchy and Balmain.
In the 1950s Traverso expanded the business, first in London, and then in Japan and Australia. There he made many new friends and, while reminiscing with one émigré textile manufacturer, Traverso realised that they had both been present at the Savoy Cavalry’s celebrated last charge, one on the Italian side, one with the Russians.
As man-made fibres emerged, Traverso established himself as a consultant to advise chemical companies on how to give a more luxurious feel to nylon, acetate, viscose, polyester and acrylic — many of which were in essence plastic. His first major consulting work began in 1957, with British Nylon Spinners, which later became ICI Fibres, and this continued for more than 20 years. Through this connection he also provided advice to DuPont of Canada, and then to various yarn-spinners and processors, including Courtauld’s Yarns. He retired in 2003, but delighted in remaining in contact with friends and colleagues from around the world.
Mario Traverso is survived by his sister, Alba. As for the Savoy Cavalry, its regimental flag survived the Russian campaign thanks to Traverso, who recovered it from a fallen comrade. Postwar Italy was no place to honour such things, however, and it was only towards the end of his life that he returned it. A delegation from the regiment attended his funeral, where the flag was draped upon the coffin before being taken to a permanent home in the regimental museum.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Santi Santamaria

Santi Santamaria, who died on February 16 aged 53, was the first Catalan chef to earn three Michelin stars; as a champion of traditional cooking, however, he was perhaps best known for launching a very public attack on the "molecular gastronomy" movement led by his rival, El Bulli's Ferran Adria, whom he accused of "poisoning" diners with chemical emulsifiers. 

Santi Santamaria
Santi Santamaria (centre) at the opening of the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore in 2010 Photo: EPA
Santi Santamaria was born on July 26 1957 in a farmhouse at Sant Celoni, near Barcelona, where his father and grandfather had also been born. It was there, as an only child, that he watched his mother in the kitchen and helped his father tend the family smallholding, where they kept a few cows and chickens, grew vegetables and made wine.
The income from his father's job at a local textile factory was supplemented by home-grown products sold at market and by the mushrooms for which they foraged in the local woods.
Santamaria came to the professional kitchen relatively late in life, dreaming at first of becoming an artist and then taking up an apprenticeship as an industrial engineer. He never finished his exams, however, and at 24 chose to open a simple tavern at his home, where he worked alongside his wife, Angels, a girl from the neighbouring village whom he had met when he was just 14.
It was this kitchen, which in 1981 served cheap local dishes such as stewed beans and sausage, that was eventually to develop into a leading light of Catalan cuisine. Santamaria prided himself on being a self-taught man, and pored over books by leading French chefs, applying what he learnt to ingredients sourced from his beloved Catalonia.
In 1989 he earned his first Michelin star for El Raco de Can Fabes, adding another three years later. By 1994 his establishment had become the first in Catalonia to attain three stars, a standard it has maintained to this day.
He went on to open successful restaurants in Barcelona and Madrid, winning a total of seven Michelin stars, before branching out with establishments in Dubai and Singapore. Santamaria also wrote 10 books on cooking and was awarded Spain's National Gastronomy Prize in 2009.
But just as he was prospering by championing traditional cooking and local organic produce, a new avant-garde school, led by his fellow Catalan chef, Ferran Adria, was winning popularity in Spain. These two culinary styles could not have been more at odds.
Santamaria used a conference in Madrid in 2007 to launch an attack on Adria and his disciples, lashing out at the outlandish creations of their hi-tech cuisine, and accusing them of being "a gang of frauds... cooking for snobs".
El Bulli, which has often been described as the world's best restaurant, is famous for such innovations as hot and cold foams and "spherification" techniques, in which liquid droplets are sealed in gelatin to create edible, fluid-filled capsules. Santamaria derided such pretension, insisting that "all good meals should end in a good s---."
His tirade shocked both chefs and critics. A year later he went further when, at a launch of his book La Cocina al Desnudo (The Kitchen Laid Bare), he accused the molecular gastronomes of "poisoning" diners with their reliance on chemical emulsifiers in their culinary creations. In return he was branded a traditionalist consumed by petty jealousies over the success of others.
On news of Santamaria's sudden death, however, such insults were immediately replaced by an outpouring of tributes from Spain's most celebrated chefs, including Adria.
Santi Santamaria is thought to have had a heart attack while entertaining critics at Santi, the restaurant run by his daughter in Singapore. He is survived by his wife and their two children.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser

US actor Len Lesser, best known for his role as Uncle Leo on sitcom Seinfeld, has died aged 88 from cancer-related pneumonia in Los Angeles.
"Heaven got a great comedian and actor today," his daughter Michele said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Lesser played Jerry Seinfeld's scene-stealing uncle in the show, always greeting him with: "Jerry, hello!"
He also had a recurring role on TV show Everybody Loves Raymond, as a friend of the lead character's father.
The New Yorker's extensive list of TV credits included appearances in Get Smart, The Munsters, The Rockford Files and ER.
He was also seen in the prison movies Birdman of Alcatraz and Papillon and in Clint Eastwood's films Kelly's Heroes and The Outlaw Josey Wales.
His last appearance was as a neighbour in a 2009 episode of TV series Castle.
A friend told the Reuters news agency the actor died peacefully at a rehabilitation centre in Burbank where he had been staying for several

Thursday, 17 February 2011

David Friedman

David Friedman, who died on February 14 aged 87, produced a string of cult B-movies which exploited the cinema-going public’s appetite for a dash of smut and lashings of gore. 


His 1963 classic Blood Feast, directed by Herschel Gordon Lewis, featured a murderous Egyptian caterer who decapitates women and serves them up to diners, and was the first in the so-called “splatter film” genre. To promote it, Friedman promised audiences that they would have seen “nothing so appalling in the annals of horror”, and bought tens of thousands of airline sick bags that read “You May Need This When You See 'Blood Feast’” to distribute in front of cinemas.
David Friedman
David Friedman
The film cost just $24,500 to make and the notices were terrible: “Incredibly crude and unprofessional from start to finish, 'Blood Feast’ is an insult even to the most puerile and salacious audiences... It was a fiasco in all departments,” read one. Almost inevitably it became a hit, grossing millions, notably on the drive-in cinema circuit.
Between 1958 and 1984 Friedman produced, and sometimes directed, 58 similarly tasteless, low-budget features: “I am probably guilty of promulgating more of the most disgusting garbage on the American public than anyone has ever done,” he cheerfully admitted.
David Frank Friedman was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on Christmas Eve 1923 and worked as a film projectionist in Buffalo before serving in the US Army during the Second World War. After the war he worked as a roadshow salesman for Kroger Babb, whose best-known film, Mom and Dad, combined sex hygiene education with prurience and caused a sensation in the 1940s. Later he became a press agent at Paramount before leaving in 1958 to try his hand at independent film production.
As well as splatter movies (other titles included Two Thousand Maniacs!, Color Me Blood Red and Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS), Friedman made a handful of “nudie cuties” — low-budget romps with such titles as Daughter of the Sun, Nature’s Playmates and Goldilocks and the Three Bares. Later on he moved into soft-core pornography with The Erotic Adventures of Zorro (“the first movie rated Z”, as the promotions proclaimed).
But he skirted the hard-core X-rated films which mushroomed in the 1970s and 1980s. “The secret of my stuff was the old carnival tease,” he explained. “The audience would think: 'Oh, boy, we didn’t see it this week, but next week.’ They never did see it, but they kept coming back.”
In 1990 Friedman published his autobiography, A Youth in Babylon: Confessions of a Trash-Film King. He remained proud of his cinematic oeuvre: “I made some terrible pictures, but I don’t make any apologies for anything I’ve ever done. Nobody ever asked for their money back.”
Friedman’s wife, Carol, died in 2001.

Kenneth Mars

Kenneth Mars, the actor who died on February 12 aged 75, made memorable appearances in Mel Brooks’s films, notably as Franz Liebkind in The Producers (1968) and as Police Inspector Hans Wilhelm Fredrich Kemp in Young Frankenstein (1974). 


Kenneth Mars
Kenneth Mars (centre) with Gene Wilder (left) and Zero Mostel in 'The Producers' Photo: MOVIESTORE COLLECTION
As Franz Liebkind, Mars almost stole the show as a crazed former Nazi and pigeon fancier with an exaggerated German accent who has written a musical “love letter” to the Führer entitled Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden. The two protagonists, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom (played by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder), decide to produce this “worst play ever written” as part of a plot to defraud investors by staging a sure-fire flop.
They convince Liebkind to sign over the stage rights, telling him they want to show the world “the true Hitler, the Hitler with a song in his heart”. To guarantee that the show is a disaster, they hire a notoriously incompetent director (Christopher Hewett) and give the part of Hitler to “LSD”, a spaced-out hippie (Dick Shawn), who wanders into the theatre during casting.
The production opens with the title song, which features a Busby Berkeley-style chorus line in the shape of a swastika and the memorable line: “Don’t be stupid, be a smartie/Come and join the Nazi Party.” Unfortunately for the two tricksters, however, it is taken by the audience to be a satire and turns out to be a smash hit. As the protagonists blame each other, they are confronted by an enraged, gun-toting Liebkind. In desperation, the three band together and blow up the theatre to bring the production to an end.
Kenneth Mars was born in Chicago on April 14 1935 and began his acting career on television in the early 1960s. After The Producers, Brooks cast Mars again in Young Frankenstein (1974) as Inspector Kemp, the investigator with an eyepatch and malfunctioning prosthetic arm, a role which confirmed his reputation as a comic actor with a talent for over-the-top foreign accents.
Mars’s other film credits included Woody Allen’s Radio Days (1987) and Shadows and Fog (1991), and Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? (1972) in which he played a (heavily accented) Croatian musicologist. He worked extensively on television and provided numerous voices for cartoon characters, including King Triton in Walt Disney’s Little Mermaid. He also recorded a comedy LP, on which he played a gravel-voiced Henry Kissinger.

TP McKenna

TP McKenna, the versatile Irish actor who died on Sunday aged 81, brought an urbane air of authority to his many stage, film and television characters, often playing lawyers, judges, detectives, priests and bishops.

He made frequent television appearances throughout the 1960s and 1970s in many popular series including Doctor Who, Crown Court and The Avengers; his film roles included that of the war correspondent WH Russell in Tony Richardson's The Charge Of The Light Brigade (1968), starring John Gielgud and Trevor Howard, and the magistrate in Sam Peckinpah's controversial Straw Dogs (1971), starring Dustin Hoffman.
TP McKenna
TP McKenna
McKenna's other memorable television roles included portrayals of Nazis; he was Colonel Dorf, an SS commander, in the television miniseries Holocaust (1978), and Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, opposite Gregory Peck and John Gielgud, in The Scarlet and the Black (1984). In 1985 he played Harold Skimpole in Arthur Hopcraft's adaptation of Dickens's Bleak House.
Thomas Patrick McKenna was born on September 7 1929 at the village of Mullagh, Co Cavan, the son of an auctioneer. He was named after his grandfather, a former chairman of Cavan county council and a prominent public figure.
In 1942 Tom (always known, even to his family, as TP) was sent to board at St Patrick's College, Cavan, where he enjoyed appearing in productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.
One of his teachers, Fr Vincent Kennedy, taught him music and how to read a score, but at 15 TP saw a performance by the great Shakespearean actor Anew McMaster and determined one day to go on the stage.
On leaving school in 1948 he passed the examination for the Ulster Bank and was posted to the branch at Granard, Co Longford. In 1950 he was transferred to Dublin, where he joined the Shakespeare Society and the Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society, which staged ambitious Gilbert and Sullivan productions at the Gaiety Theatre.
His amateur dramatics career was cut short in 1953 when the bank threatened him with a transfer to the sleepy town of Killeshandra in his native Cavan, with "one weekly bus in, one weekly bus out, plus a creamery and a convent. I couldn't face that and resigned".
A stage career finally beckoned: one of his first professional acting engagements was at a Shakespeare festival at the Gaiety, for which he was booked by McMaster.
During the 1950s McKenna's formative years as a stage actor were spent at Ireland's national theatre, the Abbey. In 1960 he got his first film break as the anarchist Lapidos in The Siege of Sidney Street, starring Donald Sinden.
In 1963 he moved to London, and appeared to critical acclaim in Stephen D (St Martin's). In the same year McKenna made his television debut, co-starring with his friend Donal Donnelly in the BBC Sunday play The Fly Sham.
That November he co-starred with Nicol Williamson in a revival of JP Donleavy's play The Ginger Man (Royal Court), and in 1964 returned to television with a part in the popular series The Avengers.
On the stage, McKenna appeared as Cassius in Julius Caesar (Royal Court), and in 1965 replaced Kenneth Haigh in Shaw's Too True To Be Good (Garrick).
It was, noted WA Darlington in The Daily Telegraph, a change for the better: "TP McKenna, as the burglar-preacher, has a better voice and clearer delivery than his predecessor... [his] oratory is a delight to the ear."
Throughout the 1970s McKenna made regular appearances in the lunchtime television series Crown Court as the barrister Patrick Canty. In 1972 he played a maverick Russian agent in three episodes of Callan, opposite Edward Woodward.
His television career continued to flourish in the 1980s and 1990s, with roles in Miss Marple, Lovejoy and Doctor Who.
McKenna fulfilled a long-held ambition to appear with John Thaw in Inspector Morse when he was cast in the final episode "The Remorseful Day" in 2000.
TP McKenna married, in 1955, May White, who died in 2006. Their four sons and one daughter survive him.