Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Skip Chevalier

I remember standing in the kitchen with my Mom and sis and telling them that I was just proposed to the man I'd been dating all of 2 weeks and I was crying (no one ever cried in our family) and saying that I was afraid he would be killed young he was a state trooper - little did I know that my FAMILY would be the CAUSE of his death.

I tried to get my hubby to move away from the city we lived with my family in Ak. One nite I was discussing with my hubby about two years before his death - our moving to another city FAR AWAY from my nuts brother. There was an opening in a city about 9 or 10 hours away by car. I told him, "I think my brother will kill you someday!" He didn't believe me!

One time I convinced him to move, but he got really angry at me and said - "Okay, but I'm NEVER doing anything else for you again!" I told him - "NEVERMIND!!" We never moved and you will see the outcome of that!

The day he was killed - I was standing at the bottom of the stairs in our house and I heard or felt "Skip's going to die soon!" And my thot was - I wonder when that will be? I stood there for another moment and got no reply. When the revelation 'hit me' was without emotion - it was without upset - unlike his actual death and following - it was calm and cool delivery and was accepted as FACT. It was to prepare me for what would happen next and couldn't be stopped.

That afternoon - I tried to talk with Skip about - "how about we not go up to the ski lodge this evening." Skip said, "but we have the spaghetti!" - Like they couldn't feed themselves? So I acquiesced ...

Then I said, "How about we go to Mass tonite?" Skip said, "no - I don't want to - and besides we'll be late if we go up after 6 p.m. - I'd like to get up there earlier." But when he saw I was disappointed by his reply and he said, "it's not that I don't love God - I just don't want to go to church tonight!" He had never told me HOW he felt about God - in fact we went to church - but we didn't talk about God at all! It was a great surprise to me when he said this - but it comforts me to no end that he said he LOVED God.

*******This is my story of the death of my hubby on April 3rd, 1982.


Saturday, 26 March 2011

My Family

My Family dropped after 11 years

Publicity shot from series two Robert Lindsay (l) said recently he was "amazed by the public's love for the series"
Long-running BBC One sitcom My Family, starring Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker, has been axed.
The 11th series of the show - which depicts the comic trials of a modern family - will be aired on BBC One later this year and will be its last.
"Now that all the Harper children have fled the nest we feel it's time to make room for new comedies," said BBC One controller Danny Cohen.
Its two stars would remain "part of our BBC One comedy family", he added.
"In Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker we are proud to have had two of Britain's finest comic actors," said Cheryl Taylor, the BBC's comedy commissioning controller.
She said "almost a generation of British children has grown up with the Harper brood", who have been played by actors including Kris Marshall and former EastEnder Daniela Denby-Ashe.
The 10th series of the programme, shown last summer, attracted an average audience of 4.6 million viewers.
In a recent interview Lindsay said he was "amazed by the public's love for the series".
"When Kris Marshall left in 2005 I was convinced that was it. But somehow Zoe and I have kept the essence of it together," he told the Daily Telegraph.
The sitcom, which first went out on BBC One on September 2000, was created by Fred Barron.
The US producer and writer had previously worked on Seinfeld and The Larry Sanders Show and imported such American production methods as salaried writers and exclusive use of the studio during the production period.
Barron said Lindsay's character - grumpy dentist Ben Harper - had been inspired by his own father.
According to the BBC, the programme addressed issues such as single parenthood, sexuality, drugs and race and was "less fluffy than is often thought".

George Walker

George Walker, who died on March 22 aged 81, was a former boxer whose meteoric business career in the 1980s ended in arrest and bankruptcy. 

George Walker
George Walker the entrepreneur Photo: REX
Of all the fallen tycoons of his era, Walker was perhaps the most charismatic. He had bold ideas, and backed them heavily with borrowed money – a strategy which the press acclaimed as “visionary” when times were good, but which provoked the relentless hostility of his bankers when the economic tide turned against him.
Walker had energy, immense charm, and a flair for personal publicity. The unpolished diction of his East End upbringing, the battered boxer’s physiognomy and the image of a man who had fought his way to respectability after an early life of crime, all contributed to his romantic image.
In negotiations he could be rough and physically intimidating, but even the toughest of the financiers with whom he battled later confessed to liking him. He encountered snobbery from the business establishment during his early rise, but by the mid-Eighties he was courted from every corner of the City.
At its zenith, George’s company — Brent Walker — was valued on the stock market at more than a quarter of a billion pounds, and Walker’s own fortune was thought to be at least £50 million. His group’s assets covered a spectrum of popular leisure, including the Trocadero and Lyceum developments in London, the Le Touquet casino and Brighton Marina, which Walker declared would be “an English Venice”. There were hotels and holiday villages in Europe and Tunisia, and a marina in southern Spain called Puerto Sherry.
In 1988 Walker paid £240 million for two breweries, Camerons and Tolly Cobbold, and a chain of 1,200 pubs. In the following year he persuaded his financiers to back him one more time, for a further £685 million, to buy the William Hill and Mecca chains of bookmakers. It was, potentially, his greatest deal but, with hindsight, it was a deal too far.
By late 1990, as property values slumped and interest rates remained cripplingly high, the collapse of Brent Walker – with debts of £1.4 billion – seemed imminent. To keep the company from receivership, Walker personally raised a £100 million bond issue, in which his family invested some £30 million of their remaining assets.
He was determined to stay at the helm of Brent Walker, which he had always run very much as a personal fiefdom. But the company’s financial condition continued to deteriorate and the banks turned firmly against him. Six months later they succeeded in ousting him as chief executive, in a sensational and acrimonious late-night board meeting. Walker was formally escorted from his own premises at 4.30 in the morning.
After Walker’s departure, the new management of the company called in the Serious Fraud Office to trawl for malfeasance. In January 1993 Walker was arrested, with two others, on six charges of theft and false accounting dating back to 1985. He vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and after a lengthy trial was cleared of all charges.
Meanwhile, his personal finances were also in ruins. He attempted to keep his head above water by volunteering to pay off a proportion of his £180 million debts whenever he could, but the banks attacked the arrangement and made him bankrupt. The bankruptcy judge accused Walker of a “cavalier attitude” towards his creditors.
It was not in Walker’s nature, as a boxer or as a man, to throw in the towel. He pursued every channel of litigation and publicity to declare his innocence and to damn the banks’ vindictiveness. At the same time, he and his wife attempted to rebuild their wealth by selling cheap cigarettes and scent in bulk to Russia.
He also opened plush betting shops in Moscow, to which he had horse and greyhound racing transmitted by satellite from British tracks. Walker – who had already survived two heart attacks and stomach cancer – found new stamina for arduous dealings among the new capitalist barons of the Eastern bloc.
George Walker’s most endearing characteristic was his devotion to his wife, Jean, with whom he had fallen in love when she was 16. From their beginnings in the East End garage trade, the couple worked closely in all George’s endeavours, and Jean was for many years the purchasing director of Brent Walker. Adversaries who had felt the brute force of Walker’s negotiating style noted with surprise how he mellowed in her company. He would often hold her hand in public.
George Alfred Walker was born in Stepney on April 14 1929, the son of a drayman at Watneys brewery. He was educated at the Jubilee School, Bedford, Essex, but left at 14 to become a carpenter’s apprentice in an aircraft factory.
In 1945 he moved on to become a fish salesman in Billingsgate market, until he was called for National Service. It was in the RAF that he developed his boxing talent. He punched hard with both hands, and could withstand ferocious punishment from opponents. He became British amateur light heavyweight champion in 1951 before turning professional (dubbed “the Stepney Steamroller”) and reaching seventh place in the world rankings. He won 11 of his 14 professional fights, eight of them by knockout.
The defeat which effectively ended Walker’s career in the ring, by the Welshman Dennis Powell, was one of the bloodiest bouts contemporary commentators had ever seen. Powell went down seven times and came close to surrender; but in the ninth round Walker sustained a terrible eye injury, leaving him with permanent double vision on his right side. He also suffered a ruptured spleen and broken hands, and for a week afterwards was unable to stand.
Walker sometimes referred to the next phase of his career as his “other life”; it did not become public knowledge until 25 years later. He became a minder for an East End gangster, Billy Hill, whose 1988 autobiography, Boss of Britain’s Underworld, gave away Walker’s secret, describing him as “a hefty lad ... ready for anything”. Hill’s gang was involved in a farcical attempt to return a deposed Sultan to Tangiers (it ended in a dockside brawl) and in extensive cigarette smuggling around the Mediterranean.
The association with Hill ended when Walker was caught stealing £1,754-worth of nylon stockings in London’s Victoria Docks – according to legend, it took a van-load of constables to subdue him. The Old Bailey judge, observing that Walker had been paid only £3 for the job, called him a “gullible fool” as he sentenced him to two and a half years.
On emerging from Wormwood Scrubs, Walker found work as a runner for a professional gambler and garage owner in Plaistow, Georgie Hatton. In 1957 Walker married Hatton’s daughter, Jean – whom he had first met on a Saturday night at the Kursaal ballroom in Southend, which he later came to own. The young couple became partners in Hatton’s motor business – Walker adopted “Punch Petrol” as his brand-name – and expanded into taxis and haulage. For the first five years of their marriage, the Walkers lived in tiny quarters above their garage in West Ham.
George’s gift for publicity first showed itself in his management of the boxing career of his younger brother Billy (“The Blond Bomber”), who became British amateur heavyweight champion in 1962. Although Billy never won a professional title, his good looks contributed to a brilliant marketing success, with sponsorship deals as well as hefty fight purses netting the brothers some £250,000 over eight years. George, meanwhile, had also gone into the nightclub business, launching London’s first discotheque, Dolly’s in Jermyn Street.
The brothers ventured their winnings in a chain of restaurants called Billy’s Baked Potato – offering three-course lunches for 2s 9d – and a growing portfolio of property and entertainment venues. But Billy lacked George’s relentless appetite for entrepreneurial risk, and in the late 1960s he retired quietly to Jersey.
George Walker’s next major move built the foundation of a more ambitious empire. In 1974 he reversed his company, G&W Walker, into the stockmarket-listed Hackney & Hendon Greyhounds Co to form Brent Walker – and went on to develop the Hendon dog-track site as the Brent Cross shopping centre, one of the first and most successful of its kind. The sale of his stake in Brent Cross in 1979 netted a profit of £3.7 million.
But Walker’s business career was never without its ups and downs, and in 1982 — after a series of troubled property deals, including an Egyptian hotel contract, had temporarily wiped out the group’s profits — he bought out the public shareholders in Brent Walker. In 1985, however, he came back to the stockmarket, armed with a vision of a much enlarged international leisure conglomerate. His infectious confidence suited the mood of the Eighties boom years. Investors and bankers backed him again and again in his final, and ultimately catastrophic, buying spree.
One of Walker’s most colourful sidelines was his interest in cinema. At the Cannes film festival in 1977, he sat next to Joan Collins at lunch and cemented a deal which resulted in two money-spinning, if tasteless, vehicles for her charms, The Stud and The Bitch. His next project, by contrast, recorded 12 Gilbert and Sullivan works for television and video – Walker had been an opera fan since his boxing days.
Headlined as the “great white hope” of the British film industry, Walker went on to rescue the ailing Goldcrest production company and to save Elstree studios from the bulldozer. Ironically, several of the charges later brought against him by the fraud squad related to film transactions.
Walker had a taste for the finer things in life. In his heyday he owned a penthouse overlooking St James’s Palace, properties in the Alps and on the Riviera, and a splendiferous yacht. He dressed elegantly and loved fine wine – acquiring a first-growth claret vineyard, Chateau Rausan-Segla in Medoc, to which he had hoped eventually to retire. Almost all his personal assets were forfeited in bankruptcy, but he managed to hold on to the ancient rectory in Essex which was the family’s real home.
George and Jean Walker had two daughters and a son. In 1989 their elder daughter, Sarah, married the polo-playing 4th Marquess of Milford Haven, a cousin of the Queen; the marriage was dissolved in 1996, and she is now the partner of Michael Spencer, former Treasurer of the Conservative Party.

Sion Milosky

Sion Milosky, who died while surfing off California on March 16 aged 35, was one of the surfing world’s most respected big-wave riders. 

Sion Milosky
In January 2010 Milosky rode one of the biggest waves ever paddled into by hand, at the so-called Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. It was estimated at 35ft by Hawaiian and general oceanographic measurement standards, which are based on the “back” of the wave. To surfers in the mainland United States, Britain and most of the rest of the world — who measure their waves face-on — it would have been at least twice that height.
Others have ridden bigger waves in the last few years, but only after being towed by jet ski to get them up to pace with the wave before it broke. The Texan Ken Bradshaw, who was towed into place by a jet ski off Hawaii on January 28 1998, claims the record of riding the biggest wave – at least 85ft by American measurements.
Native Polynesians in Hawaii are known to have surfed mighty waves on carved-out tree trunks long before cameras existed or records kept. But Milosky’s big wave is now reckoned to be the biggest ever paddled into manually, along with another huge wave ridden side-by-side by his American friends Mark Healey and Shane Dorian at Waimea Bay on Oahu a few days later, also in January last year.
Milosky was already highly respected by his fellow surfers as what is known as an “underground charger” – a longboarder who “charged” the biggest waves for pleasure but avoided the international attention, sponsorship and money that the sport can bring.
All that began to change when the renowned surf photographer Daniel Russo captured him paddling into and then “charging” what surfers call a “widow-maker” at the Banzai Pipeline. Milosky’s name was made. “Sick” was the adjective most used to describe his ride – the highest of compliments from surfers.
Photographs of him against the backdrop of enormous waves began to appear regularly in American surfing magazines, and soon the sponsors began to take notice. The surf and beachwear companies Volcom and Vans decided to back him.
Sion Milosky was born in 1975 in the small town of Kalaheo, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. He was the son of a Californian hippie who had moved to Hawaii around 1970 to seek the islands’ aloha spirit as the American “flower power” dream faded. Sion, nicknamed “Bam Bam”, began on a boogie board on nearby Poipu Beach at the age of three and by the time he attended Waimea High School was an expert surfer.
Thereafter he worked as a dishwasher, cook, pizza delivery boy, carpenter, fisherman, boat and car repairman, waiter and bartender before setting up his own business – welding wrought-iron gates for the driveways of Hawaiian homes. After marrying a local girl, Suzi Olaes, and having two daughters, he moved from Kauai to Oahu two years ago to be closer to the big surf on the North Shore, notably the Banzai Pipeline.
At the time of his death Milosky — a “goofy-footer” (that is, he stood on the board with right foot forward) — was visiting friends in California, where he wanted to surf the notorious Maverick’s break at Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, which has killed or maimed surfers in the past.
On the evening of March 16, he decided to round off his session by barrelling across a big wave on his bespoke 10’ 5’’ board. According to his close friend Nathan Fletcher, he caught the wave “with a big smile on his face” — but the wave’s lip pummelled him into the ocean and a following wave covered him like an avalanche.
Fletcher immediately commandeered a jet ski, and found Milosky’s body 20 minutes later, a mile from where he had disappeared. His lightweight life-vest had proved inadequate against the might of a “two-wave hold-down”.
A fellow surfer who saw Milosky’s body taken ashore said: “He looked perfect. They’d removed his wetsuit, his eyes were closed, no apparent damage of any kind. Just a perfectly peaceful, healthy person. You felt like you could just jolt him back to life.”
Milosky, whose wife and children survive him, said in a recent interview: “It’s not about making a big drop. The ultimate aim is to get barrelled [to get in the hollow of the wave]. Powering into the biggest wave and the biggest barrel. That would be a nice feeling — for people to say, 'Hey, Sion, he caught some of the biggest waves ever ridden’.”

Friday, 25 March 2011

Daniel Bell

Daniel Bell, the American sociologist who has died aged 91, coined the terms “post-industrial” and “the information society” and predicted the end of communism, the rise of the internet and other trends long before they occurred. 

Daniel Bell
Daniel Bell Photo: AP
Two of Bell’s books — The End of Ideology (1960) and Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1978) — were cited by the Times Literary Supplement as among the 100 most influential works written since the Second World War.
In the first, Bell argued that the dire effects of Russian communism and German fascism had rendered obsolete all extreme political dogmas, and predicted an era when social and political programmes would be based on pragmatism, rather than on slogans and personality cults.
“A utopia has to specify where one wants to go, how to get there, the costs of the enterprise, and some realisation of and justification for the determination of who is to pay,” he wrote. Though such ideas may be commonplace now, at the height of the Cold War and during the first rumblings of campus radicalism they were mocked by some as unrealistic.
In The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society (1973), Bell noted a decline in the blue-collar “proletariat”, the supposed shock troops for the Marxist revolution. He foresaw “the pre-eminence of the professional and technical class” and predicted that the computer would come to define the late 20th century as much as the motor car had its middle years.
As early as 1967, he evoked a future of “tens of thousands of terminals in homes and offices 'hooked’ into giant central computers providing library and information services, retail ordering and billing services, and the like”.
From the perspective of a world struggling to emerge from the global financial meltdown, perhaps Bell’s most important work was Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976), in which he noted that the increasingly structured economy in which people work exists in parallel with a private sphere based on the “untrammelled self”.
“A corporation finds its people being straight by day and swingers by night,” he wrote. Western capitalism had come to rely on mass consumerism, acquisitiveness and easy credit, undermining the old Protestant virtues of thrift, discipline and restraint, and placing the future of the system itself in jeopardy.
Unlike many American public intellectuals of his ilk, Bell resisted political categorisation. He began as a Leftist in the 1930s but, in the 1960s, helped his friend Irving Kristol found The Public Interest, a journal destined in the 1980s to become a powerhouse for neoconservatism. But Bell and the journal had parted company long before.
Describing himself as a “socialist in economics, a liberal in politics and a conservative in culture”, Bell supported a modest welfare state while vehemently opposing all manifestations of modernism, which he considered a “great profanation” of art and culture – built on “the shambles and appetite of self-interest”.
He was born Daniel Bolotsky in New York on May 10 1919 to impoverished Jewish immigrants from Poland. His father, a garment worker, died when he was 10 months old, and Daniel spent part of his childhood in an orphanage while his widowed mother worked in a factory.
By the age of 13 Daniel had become an ardent socialist: “When I had my bar mitzvah,” he recalled, “I said to the Rabbi, 'I’ve found the truth. I don’t believe in God. I’m joining the Young People’s Socialist League.’ So he looked at me and said, 'Kid, you don’t believe in God. Tell me, do you think God cares?’”
After Stuyvesant High School, he entered City College, New York, which, in the late 1930s, was known for its young, mostly Jewish, students who spent hours debating Marxism in Alcove No 1 of the college canteen. Bell’s contemporaries included such future luminaries as the writers Irving Kristol and Irving Howe, the sociologists Nathan Glazer and Seymour Martin Lipset, and the art critic Harold Rosenberg.
After taking a degree in Sociology, Bell began writing for The New Leader magazine. Exempted from military service for medical reasons during the Second World War, he served as the magazine’s managing editor from 1941 to 1944, switching to a similar position at Common Sense magazine in 1945. In the same year he became an instructor at the University of Chicago.
In 1948 he went to work for Fortune magazine as its labour editor, a post he held for 10 years while writing some of his first books and articles.
He received a doctorate from Columbia in 1959 and taught at the university until 1969, when he moved to Harvard, where he was appointed Henry Ford II professor of social sciences in 1980.
Bell’s other books include Marxian Socialism in the United States (1952), an account of why the rigid tenets of Marxism failed in America’s freewheeling society; Work and Its Discontents (1956); The Reforming of General Education (1966); and The Social Sciences Since World War II (1981). A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 1987-88 Bell spent a year in Britain as Pitt Professor of American Institutions at Cambridge University.
Daniel Bell died on January 25. His first two marriages were dissolved, and he is survived by his third wife, Pearl, by their son and by a daughter of his first marriage.


Nikolai Andrianov

Nikolai Andrianov, the gymnast who died on March 21 from a degenerative neurological disease aged 58, held the Olympic medal record for men until 2008, when the American swimmer Michael Phelps surpassed him at the Beijing Games.

Nikolai Andrianov
Nikolai Andrianov competing in 1978 Photo: GETTY
From the Munich Olympics in 1972 to the Moscow Olympics in 1980, Andrianov notched up 15 medals for the Soviet Union, seven of them gold.
Nikolai Yefimovich Andrianov was born on October 14 1952 into a poor family in the city of Vladimir. Unruly as a child, he played truant from school, but developed an interest in gymnastics after seeing a boy walking on his hands. Encouraged by a friend, the 12 year-old enrolled in gymnastics classes at the local sports school. He left after a month, but his coach, Nikolai Tolkachov, persuaded him to return.
In 1969, when he was 17, Andrianov joined the USSR’s youth team and, the next year, its senior national team. He was a reserve at the 1970 World Championships, but the following year won six medals at the 1971 European Championships in Madrid, two of them gold.
His first Olympic medal, at Munich, was a gold in the 1972 floor competition (he also took a silver and a bronze). In 1976 he won four golds (in the floor exercises, rings and vault, as well as in the all-around), two silvers and a bronze, becoming the most decorated medallist in the Games that year. On home soil in Moscow in 1980, he won two more golds (in the vault and team competition), two silvers and a bronze.
In the same period Andrianov won 12 world championship medals (four gold and eight silver) and 18 European championship medals (10 gold, six silver, two bronze), with all-round titles in the 1975 European Championships and the 1978 World Championships.
His Olympic record stood until the Beijing Games, at which Michael Phelps won eight medals, taking his overall total to 16.
Despite his dominance in the men’s events, Andrianov — who was a smoker and enjoyed a glass of vodka — never surpassed the achievement of the female Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina, who had won 18 medals in the 1956, 1960 and 1964 games.
After retiring following the Moscow Olympics, Andrianov served as head coach of the Soviet junior men’s team from 1981 to 1992 and was elected president of the Soviet Gymnastics Federation in 1990.
In 1994 he accepted the invitation of his Japanese former rival Mitsuo Tsukahara to coach in Japan. One of his protégés was Tsukahara’s son, Naoya Tsukahara, who helped Japan win the team gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
In 2002 Andrianov returned to Russia to become director of gymnastics at the sports school at Vladimir, where he had begun his sporting career.
At his peak as a gymnast, Andrianov’s powerful musculature allowed him to perform with impeccable technical and artistic finesse, but in recent years he had developed a rare degenerative neurological disorder called multiple system atrophy. He was unable to move his arms or his legs, and he could not speak.
Nikolai Andrianov is survived by his wife, the former Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Lyubov Burda, whom he married in 1973, and by their two sons.

Richard Leacock

Richard Leacock, who died on March 23 aged 89, was a British-born pioneer of the documentary film movement known as cinéma-vérité. 

Richard Leacock
Richard Leacock (left) with Robert Flaherty Photo: KOBAL COLLECTION
The phrase was coined in the early 1960s to describe a form of “fly-on-the-wall” film making, shorn of interviews, lights and preachy voice-over, that seemed to promise a true record of events. Leacock was one of a team of film-makers (including DA Pennebaker and Albert Maysles) who, in the early 1960s, devised the portable, hand-held cameras and synchronous sound equipment that formed the basis for the movement. It was as much ideological as technological, championing non-judgmental observation as the purest form of documentation.
Leacock made his mark in America with Primary (1960, with DA Pennebaker). Using the new lightweight equipment, they gained unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the young Massachusetts senator John F Kennedy’s presidential campaign against Hubert Humphrey in Wisconsin. “On the first day Bob Drew, Al Maysles and I walked into the photo studio where Kennedy was having his portrait taken and just shot what happened — they ignored us,” Leacock recalled.
Primary established a new model for film-making which paved the way for new wave directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut and a later generation of reality TV programme makers.
Of course, the notion of a neutral cameraman dispassionately recording unselfconscious happenings has come to be seen as an illusion by a more cynical age. And, to his credit, Leacock never made grandiose claims for his art: “All I ever wanted,” he explained to an interviewer, “was to give the impression of being there.” The phrase cinéma-vérité, he observed, “was coined as a jokey reference to Dziga Vertov’s Kino Pravda, which was itself a complete manipulation. It meant nothing then and it means nothing now.”
Richard Leacock was born in London on July 18 1921 and grew up on his father’s banana plantation in the Canary Islands. He was educated at Dartington Hall, where, aged 14, he made his first documentary film, Canary Bananas, to show his friends what it was like to live on a banana farm.
After leaving school in 1938 he spent a year as a cameraman on the ornithologist David Lack’s expedition to the Canary and Galapagos Islands. He then moved to America, where he took a degree in Physics at Harvard and served for three years as a combat cameraman in the US Army in Burma and China. After the war he worked as a cameraman on Robert Flaherty’s Louisiana Story.
The first film he wrote, directed and edited himself was Toby and the Tall Corn (1954), about a travelling theatre in Missouri. Shown on American television, it brought him into contact with Robert Drew, an editor at Life magazine who was looking for a more cinematic approach to television reportage. In 1959 they went into partnership with DA Pennebaker, Shirley Clarke and Albert Maysles to find a way of making films with more mobile equipment. Pennebaker developed the revolutionary portable 16mm cine camera, while Leacock hit on the idea of using a system of Bulova watches to keep film and speech in sync.
After Primary, Leacock and Pennebaker worked on many more documentaries, notably A Stravinsky Portrait and Monterey Pop, an account of the 1967 rock festival featuring The Mamas and the Papas, Jimi Hendrix and The Who. For many critics, however, one of Leacock’s finest films was his 1961 documentary Mooney vs Fowle/Football, a penetrating study of the American dedication to winning as evinced in the lives of two rival high-school football coaches in Miami.
In 1968 Leacock was invited to join Ed Pincus in creating a new film school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology .
After retiring from MIT, Leacock moved to Paris, where he married Valerie Lalonde, with whom he made a number of films.
Richard Leacock is survived by his wife and by five children.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Fred Titmus

Fred Titmus
Titmus played in 53 Tests for England between 1955 and 1975
Ex-England spinner Fred Titmus has died aged 78 following a long illness, his former county Middlesex have announced.
Born in November 1932, Titmus was given his first-class debut in 1949 aged 16 years and 213 days, making him the then youngest ever Middlesex player.
He played in four Ashes series against Australia, the last of them in 1974-75 after six years out of Test cricket.
Titmus ended with a first-class record of 21588 runs at an average of 23.11, and 2830 wickets at 22.37 in 792 games.
He returned Test-best figures of 7-79 against Australia in Sydney in 1962-63 and his highest score of 84 not out came in 1974 against India in Mumbai.
London-born Titmus, who was also on the books of Watford Football Club, was involved in an horrific accident shortly before the 1967-68 tour of the West Indies, when he caught his foot in the propeller of a boat and lost four toes.
However, he returned to action for Middlesex in May 1968 and dispelled doubts about his fitness by finishing the season with 111 wickets, as well as leading the county's batting averages.
His final appearance for the county came in 1982, when he was attending a match against Sussex as a spectator. Middlesex captain Mike Brearley called up Titmus on a pitch conducive to spin, and the gamble paid off as he took 3-43 to set up a 58-run victory.
Former Test umpire Dickie Bird said: "I was at a lunch at Lord's last week for former Test players. I asked about Fred and they told me he wasn't very well. It's very sad news.
"I played against him in county cricket and umpired when he was playing for Middlesex and England. I found him very difficult to get away, his line and length was immaculate - and he still had it at 50.
"Fred was a fine cricketer, a fine off-spin bowler and a very useful batsman. In that era there were so many off-spinners around in the world and he was up there with the best of them."
Bird, now 77, added: "He was a tremendous character and he'd come out with some very funny stuff.
"He was a little deaf and once, after the wicketkeeper had put down a catch, he asked me as he walked past: 'Did he nick that one?' I said 'yes' and he said: 'I thought he did'."
A Middlesex statement added: "Fred will be deeply missed by all those who played with him and by all those who were fortunate enough to have seen him performing for Middlesex and England.
"All of our thoughts and best wishes are with his wife Stephanie and family." 

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor Her performances never lacked style
With her timeless beauty, on-screen dramas and off-screen theatrics, Elizabeth Taylor was the epitome of Hollywood excess.
Her glamour made her the most highly paid actress of her day and for a long time the most publicised.
Her film career lasted for more than half a century but her private life was more complicated than any storyline, and her romances kept her in the headlines.
She had seven husbands and was married twice to the Welsh actor Richard Burton.
Breakthrough role Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in London on 27 February 1932, the daughter of an American art dealer and his actress wife.
She held dual British and American nationality by virtue of having been born on British soil to American parents.
She was taken to Los Angeles as a child and began her film career at the age of nine.
Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet National Velvet made her a child star
She appeared alongside Roddy McDowall in Lassie Come Home in 1943 and a year later achieved her first great success in National Velvet.
In 1951 she played her first adult lead role in the film Conspirator, in which she co-starred with Robert Taylor.
The film was a flop but Taylor received critical acclaim for her mature portrayal of her 21-year-old character. She was just 16 at the time.
Her great breakthrough as an adult actress came when she starred opposite Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun. Her beauty from then on became the popular standard for a decade.
Her dramatic range was limited at this early stage of her career, but her performances gained authority and never lacked style as she grew older.
Cleopatra She was nominated for Oscars in 1958, 1959 and 1960 for Raintree County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer respectively.
By 1961 she was in her element and received an Oscar for her part in Butterfield 8, playing call-girl Gloria Wandrous, who has an affair with a married man and dies in a car crash.
Her private life was also never dull. She was first wed at 18 to Conrad Hilton, the heir to the luxury hotel chain.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra Smouldering with Burton in Cleopatra
Four years later she married actor Michael Wilding and they had two children, Chris and Michael.
However, she moved on three years later to film producer Mike Todd, with whom she had a daughter, Liza. When he was killed in an air crash soon afterwards, Taylor was devastated.
Singer Eddie Fisher did his best to comfort her, and soon became husband number four in 1959, in a marriage that lasted five years.
In 1963 she completed work on a lavish production of Cleopatra. It did not enhance her reputation as an actress and her diva behaviour helped push the film's budget past the £12m mark, a colossal sum at the time.
Nevertheless, the press had a field day when news leaked of her new romance with co-star Richard Burton.
Poor reviews They worked together on several films including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which she won an Oscar in 1967, and Franco Zeffirelli's The Taming of the Shrew. They married in 1964 and later adopted a child, Maria.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor met Larry Fortensky Larry Fortensky became her seventh husband. The marriage lasted five years
Their tempestuous relationship kept the gossip columnists busy. A diamond ring he bought her was said to have cost almost £500,000. She joked later that, for a while, she became "very left handed".
In 1973 they divorced in a Swiss court. Two years later, they were again in front of a judge, this time to re-marry in a remote Botswana village.
Their reunion lasted five months, and they were divorced for the second time in 1976.
Then, in Washington, she met and married a former US naval secretary, John Warner, who became a Republican senator.
Her career had reached a plateau, although she insisted she was content growing older and being a politician's wife.
The marriage lasted until 1982.
Clinic romance The actress suffered poor reviews the following year, when she toured the United States in a production of Private Lives with Richard Burton.
Taylor at Wembley HIV/Aids concert Campaigning for funds in the fight against HIV/Aids at a concert in London in 1992
For the first time, she entered the Betty Ford Clinic for drug and alcohol addiction. Her condition was not helped by Burton's death the following year.
Taylor made several follow-up trips to the clinic, where she encountered builder Larry Fortensky. He was 20 years her junior and had been jailed several times for drink-driving and drug-related offences.
The couple got engaged and, at their private wedding, paparazzi in helicopters dodged barrage balloons to take pictures. It was held on Michael Jackson's ranch in California.
Five years later, her eighth divorce cost her £1m.
In 1997, she added to a list of operations that already rivalled her film credits and marriage certificates.
Following two hip replacements, compressed discs and near fatal pneumonia, she survived surgery for a benign brain tumour.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor She was photographed at the funeral of her friend Michael Jackson
Although she made several forgettable films during the 80s and 90s, her most valuable work came when she took up the cause of Aids research.
This was inspired by her friend Rock Hudson, who died of an Aids-related illness in 1985.
The new millennium saw her honoured in the land of her birth, becoming a Dame of the British Empire.
Her health took a turn for the worse in 2004 when she developed congestive heart failure and scoliosis, which further affected her spinal condition leaving her unable to walk.
But in true Elizabeth Taylor style, she ordered a gold-plated, jewel-encrusted wheelchair.
One of her last public appearances was at the funeral of her friend Michael Jackson, whom she offered her support during his sex abuse trial in 2005.
Dame Elizabeth knew herself that, in terms of looks, fame and wealth, she had been dealt a golden hand.
But with her illness, addictions and broken marriages, she paid a price for her life of excess in the Hollywood Hills.
Nevertheless, she once said: "I've had enough to fill four lifetimes. I feel damn lucky, I've had a ball."

Loleatta Holloway

US singer Loleatta Holloway, best known for her vocals which were sampled on Black Box's 1989 hit Ride On Time, has died at the age of 64. 

The performer died of heart failure, her manager Ron Richardson confirmed to the BBC.
She made six studio albums and her hits included ballad Only You in 1978 and 1980's Love Sensation.
It was the latter track that Black Box sampled for Ride On Time, which was number one in the UK for six weeks.
The song became controversial after it emerged the Italian dance act had used Holloway's performance without crediting her, and she went on to successfully sue the band.
Her vocals were lip-synched by model Catherine Quinol, who fronted Black Box during their chart success.
"She was a very strong, powerful woman, but she was sweet at the same time," Mr Richardson told BBC 6 Music.
"She was also very fragile, which a lot of people didn't know."
Singer Carol Williams, who was on the SalSoul Records label with Holloway, said that she "put her right up at the top as one of the greatest voices in the world".
"When she recorded in the studio, she would have to stand so far back from the mic. Most singers, you know, go right up to the mic and almost have their lips on it. Loleatta could stand feet away."
Gilles Peterson, BBC Radio 1 DJ and co-founder of the Acid Jazz label, told 6 Music his favourite Holloway song was Hit and Run.
"That needs to get played again, because that really takes the soul, the emotion, the disco - everything about Loleatta Holloway is in that one song," he said.
Holloway leaves behind four children and nine grandchildren.
A private service for the family and a public memorial at Rev Jesse Jackson's church in Chicago are due to be held.

Pinetop Perkins

Pinetop Perkins, who died on March 21 aged 97, was the senior exponent of the boogie-woogie style of blues piano and a key influence on the development of rock and roll. 

Pinetop Perkins
Pinetop Perkins Photo: WIREIMAGE
Boogie-woogie, or barrelhouse, is a kind of blues cousin to ragtime in which the pianist maintains a rolling rhythm with the right hand (akin to a banjo player strumming at a dance) while the left underpins it with bass notes.
The style, which was first developed in the late 19th century, reached a peak of popularity in America in the 1930s and 1940s, in part due to the frequent playing by the bandleader Tommy Dorsey of a number called Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie.
This had been written by Clarence “Pinetop” Smith, a pianist shot dead at the age of 25 in a dance hall fight in 1929. Thereafter it became the signature tune of Perkins, who acquired the nickname “Pinetop” by association, and cut a memorable version of the song for Sun Records — the future label of Elvis Presley — in 1953.
The rollicking riffs of barrelhouse, epitomised by the playing of pianists such as Meade “Lux” Lewis, influenced first the direction of swing in the 1930s and 1940s and later rockabilly acts such as Presley and Carl Perkins.
Pinetop Perkins himself did not become widely known until the 1960s, but two decades earlier he had been the principal musical influence on the young Ike Turner, who was first drawn to music by hearing Perkins’s chops through an open window while walking home from school.
Perkins taught Turner to play the piano, and it was his upbeat style that is at the heart of Turner’s sound on Rocket 88, the 1950 track cited by many musicologists as the first rock and roll recording.
Joe Willie Perkins was born on July 7 1913 near Belzoni, Mississippi, where his parents worked on the land. He grew up on Deadman’s Plantation, Honey Island, Mississippi, and by the age of 13 had taught himself the guitar. “I didn’t get no schooling,” he said in 2009. “I come up the hard way in the world.”
He soon began to play at the jukes, dives and honky-tonks of the area for farmers and itinerant cotton pickers, as well as at house parties. By his late teens he had built himself a piano out of spare parts, tuned it with his guitar, and taught himself the rudiments of barrelhouse.
Throughout the 1930s he worked on a plantation near Clarksdale, in the Mississippi Delta, while also playing the music circuit based around Indianola in the same state. Then still primarily a guitarist, in the early 1940s he teamed up first with the slide guitarist Robert Nighthawk, and later with the harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson, on whose King Biscuit Time radio programme he frequently appeared.
Then, in about 1943, Perkins was forced to change his musical direction when — as he told the story — he was stabbed in the arm by a berserk chorus girl who had been barricaded by her ex-husband in the bathroom of a bar in which Perkins was drinking at Helena, Arkansas.
In the ensuing altercation, the tendons of Perkins’s left arm and hand were so severely damaged that he was unable to hold a guitar again, and so he concentrated on his piano playing.
In the late 1940s and 1950s, he recorded with Nighthawk in Chicago, and also worked with bluesmen such as Albert King and Earl Hooker; but it was not until 1969 that he came to the fore among blues players when he was asked to replace Otis Spann in Muddy Waters’s band — Muddy’s use of the electric guitar had revolutionised and defined the sound of modern blues.
Perkins played with Waters for the next decade, establishing himself as one of the best-known pianists in blues and inspiring contemporaries such as Professor Longhair and Dr John and, later, Jools Holland. He also worked occasionally with Howlin’ Wolf, and had fond memories of those in the audience who would jibe at his penchant for loud suits (a taste Perkins shared). “What you laughin’ for?” Wolf would ask. “I got me enough money to burn up a wet mule.”
Perkins appeared in The Last Waltz (1978), the documentary directed by Martin Scorsese about The Band’s last concert after 16 years on the road.
In 1981 Perkins and the rest of Waters’s group quit in a dispute over money and formed the Legendary Blues Band. Thereafter Perkins began to record frequently as a leader in his own right, releasing LPs such as After Hours (1988) and Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie (1992). In 1998 his album Legends, recorded with Hubert Sumlin, another veteran of Howlin’ Wolf’s line-up, was nominated for a Grammy, and several times in his eighties he was voted Best Blues Pianist at the WC Handy blues awards.
Perkins won a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2005, and further Grammys — for best traditional blues album — in 2007 and in February this year.
Perkins began smoking at the age of nine, and did not give up drinking until he was in his early eighties. A man of few words, he continued to play into his nineties, appearing regularly at Rosa’s Club on Chicago’s West Side and, since 2004, when he moved to Texas, at clubs in Austin.
Pinetop Perkins is believed to have been once married and divorced, and to have had four children.

Professor Leslie Collier

Professor Leslie Collier, who died on March 14 aged 90, was a virologist and bacteriologist who built on the earlier work of such scientists as Edward Jenner in helping to develop a vaccine that led to the eradication of smallpox; he also made major contributions to the understanding of trachoma, a disease which causes blindness in tropical countries. 

Leslie Collier
Leslie Collier in the field in Gambia, where he carried out research into trachoma 
Smallpox was a highly contagious and deadly disease that, between 1900 and 1970, killed an estimated 300 million people worldwide — more than all the wars and genocides of the same period. When Collier began his research at the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in 1948 a vaccine existed; but unless it remained refrigerated, it deteriorated rapidly.
The Americans had developed a method of freeze-drying vaccine and the French had carried out research into its application in their colonies before the Second World War, but there was a problem: phenol was added to the freeze-dried vaccine to fight bacterial contamination, and the chemical damaged the active virus. Collier added a key component, peptone, a soluble protein, to the process. This protected the virus, enabling the production of a heat-stable vaccine in powdered form.
This was a pivotal development in the effort to eradicate the disease because it eliminated the cumbersome necessity to establish and maintain a “cold chain” to protect the vaccine. Health workers could carry the freeze-dried vaccine for weeks — even months — in their bags and it would remain effective. Tests carried out by Collier and his team found no loss of potency after two years at 45ºC.
Collier’s breakthrough enabled the World Health Organisation to initiate a global smallpox eradication campaign in 1967. The last known case of the disease occurring naturally was in Somalia in 1977.
Leslie Harold Collier was born on February 9 1921 and educated at Brighton College. He studied Medicine at University College Hospital Medical School in London. After wartime service in Italy with the RAMC, he worked briefly as a pathologist at St Helier Hospital, Carshalton, before joining the Lister Institute in 1948.
In 1955 Collier was appointed head of a new Department of Virology at the Lister Institute laboratories in Chelsea, with the immediate objective of isolating the agent, then thought to be a virus, causing trachoma — a blinding disease affecting 400 million people worldwide. He also became honorary director of the Medical Research Council’s trachoma research unit, with a small team at Chelsea and an expatriate researcher in Gambia.
Almost as soon as they began work, a group of researchers in Beijing succeeded in isolating a psittacosis-like bacterium from the eyes of Chinese trachoma patients, findings which were confirmed in Gambia. Collier then confirmed, by infecting blind human volunteers, that the agent (subsequently identified as Chlamydia trachomatis) did indeed cause the disease.
Subsequently he carried out a major study of the microbiology, clinical features and epidemiology of trachoma and allied infections to achieve the first isolations of the chlamydias which, as well as causing blindness in the tropics, cause a range of sexually-transmitted, respiratory and cardiac diseases. The work of the Lister unit was of major importance to the subsequent study of chlamydial infections.
Collier was deputy director of the Lister Institute from 1968 to 1974 and director of the Vaccines and Sera laboratories at Elstree from 1974 until their closure in 1978. He was Professor of Virology at the University of London from 1966 to 1988 and a consultant pathologist at the Royal London Hospital from 1987.
Medical students and pathologists will know him as co-editor of the eighth edition and editor-in-chief of the five-volume ninth edition of the “microbiologist’s bible”, Topley and Wilson’s Principles of Bacteriology and Immunity (now Topley and Wilson’s Microbiology and Microbial Infections), which won the Society of Authors’ 1998 award in the advanced edited book category. He was also joint editor of Developments in Antiviral Chemotherapy (1980) and co-author of Human Virology (1993).
Collier was a fellow of the Royal Society of Pathologists and served as president of the pathology section of the Royal Society of Medicine from 1986 to 1988.
He married, in 1942, Adeline Barnett, with whom he had a son.


Dorothy Young

During her year with the “World-Famous Self-Liberator”, she played the role of the scantily-clad “Radio Girl of 1950”, a 1920s impression of what radio would be like several decades later.
Dorothy Young
Dorothy Young
In the autumn of 1925, in what turned out to be his last American tour (he died a year later), Houdini would start his act with a large mock wireless set which he opened front, back and top, exposing the internal mechanism to show that there was nothing there before closing it again. A voice would then announce: “Miss Dorothy Young doing the Charleston” — which was her cue to pop one foot out of the radio followed by the other one.
“I kicked my feet together and jumped up and did a curtsy,” she recalled. “And then Houdini would take me by the waist and lift me down, and I would go into a Charleston.”
Houdini’s finale was his famous Chinese Water Torture Cell, which he had performed in England to great acclaim. Clad in bathing trunks, his feet padlocked into mahogany stocks, he would be lowered upside-down into a glass-fronted tank filled with water. A curtain would then be drawn across the tank. Although Dorothy Young knew how he escaped, she never revealed his secret.
After Houdini’s death in 1926 she and Gilbert Kiamie, the playboy son of a silk lingerie magnate, came to international prominence as a dance act called Dorothy and Gilbert featuring their own Latin dance, the “rumbalero”. The couple subsequently married. Occasionally working as a model (her legs were once passed off as those of Gloria Swanson), Dorothy Young also danced in many early films, including the Fred Astaire musical comedy Flying Down to Rio (1933). Later she published a novel inspired by her career, Dancing on a Dime, which was filmed by Paramount Studios in 1940.
Dorothy Young was born on May 3 1907 at Otisville, New York, the daughter of a Methodist minister. While studying at Beaver College, Pennsylvania, she saw Anna Pavlova perform and determined to become a ballet dancer.
But while visiting New York with her parents aged 17 she saw an advertisement in the stage paper Variety for a vaudeville dancer to join a Broadway show, followed by a tour of the United States. When she arrived for the audition, she sat at the back, too shy to step forward.
But she was spotted by Houdini and his manager, who asked her to dance the Charleston; she signed a year’s contract and was sworn to secrecy about the mysteries of Houdini’s act. She then had to persuade her parents that joining the great illusionist was a suitable career move.
Houdini’s wife, Bess, fitted her for a silk stage costume. In the show the two women performed a stately minuet before the great man made his entrance and introduced the “Radio Girl”. In another illusion, The Slave Girl, Houdini would tie Dorothy Young from throat to ankles to a pole, before causing a curtain to fall to the floor. She would then emerge in a beautiful butterfly costume en pointe and dance a ballet number. When Houdini first introduced the “Radio Girl” illusion at Hartford, Connecticut, in September 1925, Dorothy Young remembered meeting the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, who patted her approvingly on the head. The show transferred to Broadway before touring several major cities.
During the Second World War, having trained as an engineer and in personnel management, Dorothy Young was assigned to a factory making shock absorbers for the US military.
After Gilbert Kiamie became her second husband and inherited a fortune, Dorothy Young was a generous benefactor to Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, endowing it with a $13 million arts centre.
She had a son with her first husband, Robert Perkins, who died 13 years after their marriage. Gilbert Kiamie died in 1992.

John Sunley

John Sunley, who died on February 14 aged 74, was chairman of the charitable foundation founded by his father Bernard, and head of his family’s hugely successful businesses in the construction industry. 

John Sunley
The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation was established in 1960 with a pledge of £300,000-worth of shares and to date has made grants of more than £92 million to a very wide range of charities.
John Sunley became its chairman in 1989, and was passionate about the Foundation’s ability to help improve quality of life for the young, the elderly and the disadvantaged.
A host of charitable projects across the country carry the “Sunley” name, perhaps the most notable being the Sunley Room at the National Gallery. Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, the YMCA, the Scouts and Sea Cadets, and Variety Club Sunshine Coaches were among other beneficiaries — as were hundreds of village halls, reflecting John Sunley’s belief in the importance of local community life.
John Bernard Sunley — known as “Sunshine” to his friends — was born on May 31 1936 and educated at Harrow before taking a Business degree at Columbia University in the United States. He served with the Royal Marines, then trained in accountancy and chartered surveying.
In 1960 he joined the boards of Blackwood Hodge and the Bernard Sunley Investment Trust (BSIT), the two public companies his father had built up since starting out in the 1920s as a landscape contractor — and making his name by re-laying the Arsenal FC pitch at Highbury. Bernard diversified into opencast coal mining and airfield construction, building more than 100 bomber and fighter aerodromes during the Second World War.
Blackwood Hodge became the world’s largest distributor of earth-moving equipment, while the BSIT subsidiary Bernard Sunley & Sons was responsible for landmark buildings such as Manchester’s Piccadilly Plaza, the first Gatwick Airport terminal, and the Royal Thames Yacht Club.
In the 1970s John spearheaded the group’s move into the Middle East, winning contracts for hospitals, police stations, banks and apartment complexes throughout the Gulf. In 1979, the year he became chairman of Sunley Holdings, the Queen opened the Sunley-built Dubai World Trade Centre.
Later, John Sunley’s attention focused on development projects in the United States. He never really retired, continuing to manage the family property, farming and venture capital interests as well as giving his time and wisdom to a wide range of charities.
He was a considerable sportsman — a talented cricketer and rugby player in his youth, a wily tennis player and a competitive golfer at Royal St Georges, Royal Cinque Ports, Sunningdale, the Berkshire, and the Royal & Ancient. He was particularly proud to be life president of the Construction Industry Golfing Society, and was a life member of MCC and Kent CCC .
Sunley was also a Cresta runner, a member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club and — usually sporting a Panama or broad brimmed flat cap — a popular figure on the Turf, rarely missing a Monday evening meeting at Windsor. The greyhound world also enjoyed his patronage, Sunley Express finishing third in the Derby in 1986.
He managed to combine his charitable and sporting interests at the Lord’s Taverners and The Saints & Sinners Club. A gregarious man who never took himself too seriously, his generosity was as well known as his excellent sense of humour.
John Sunley was a countryman at heart. His Godmersham Park Estate, with its fine shoot and first-class stud, was testimony to his love of conservation and wildlife. He was Master of the Pytchley Hunt in the early 1990s, and High Sheriff of Kent in 1999.
John Sunley was thrice married. With his first wife, Patricia Taylor, he had three sons and a daughter. With his third wife, Fiona Bateman, whom he married in 1992, he had a son and a daughter. He is survived by his wife and his six children.

Yakov Kreizberg

Yakov Kreizberg, who died on March 15 aged 51, was a Russian-born conductor who enjoyed great success in Britain, bringing to the podium much of the athletic charisma, energetic enthusiasm and forceful personality of his mentor, Leonard Bernstein . 

Yakov Kreizberg
Yakov Kreizberg Photo: ALAMY
Although a master of the Russian repertoire, Kreizberg was an equally passionate exponent of the great Czech operas of Janácek; he also gave his audiences a deep insight into the great Classical and Romantic works. He championed music banned by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s and was one of the first to perform music by Berthold Goldschmidt, who enjoyed a late flourish of popularity in his 10th decade in the 1990s.
Kreizberg was an immediate hit at his Glyndebourne debut in 1992, conducting Jenufa, Janácek’s tale of infanticide and redemption. He went on to become chief conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from 1995 to 2000, building up the orchestra’s self-esteem and taking it on its first – and widely acclaimed – tour of the United States, including to Carnegie Hall, New York.
His longest relationship was with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he served as chief conductor for seven years from 2003, creating a recording legacy that is almost unparalleled in its breadth and beauty.
Overshadowing his career and personal life, however, was a tangled tale of bitter sibling rivalry. Kreizberg, who took his mother’s surname for professional purposes, and Semyon Bychkov, his fellow conductor and elder brother by seven years, had reportedly not spoken for many years.
Yakov Kreizberg was born in what was then Leningrad on October 24 1959. His maternal great-grandfather, also Yakov Kreizberg, had conducted at the opera house in fin de siècle Odessa. By the age of 12 Yakov’s heart was set on a conducting career, and he was soon studying with Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatoire.
His brother had left the Soviet Union in 1975, and Kreizberg was anxious to do likewise, fearing that his sibling’s defection would affect his career in Leningrad. There was also the chilling prospect of military service. “In another couple of years I would have been drafted, and at that time it would have meant Afghanistan,” he recalled in 1999.
The problem was that his father, May Bychkov, was a prominent Soviet military scientist and had been told by the KGB that he would never be allowed out. As a result, his parents divorced to allow the teenager and his mother — a French teacher — to emigrate. Yakov recalled how they arrived in New York in 1976 with no money and only two suitcases. Meanwhile, the Soviets had prevented him from taking any handwritten material — meaning that he had abandoned a portfolio of youthful compositions, several of which had been publicly performed in Russia. They are now lost.
By the age of 22, Kreizberg was accompanying Rimsky-Korsakov’s one-act opera Mozart and Salieri from the piano in a small theatre in New York. He then spent two summers at Tanglewood with Leonard Bernstein and a third with him in Los Angeles. On one occasion Bernstein took notes while watching Kreizberg rehearse Strauss’s Don Juan, notes that the young conductor thereafter kept in his score and to which he often referred.
He won the Eugene Ormandy prize in Michigan and, in 1986, four years after taking American citizenship, the Leopold Stokowski conducting competition. He conducted the Mannes College orchestra in New York from 1985 to 1988.
Soon Kreizberg was back in Europe to begin a gentle climb through the regional opera houses of what was then East Germany, before landing at the Komische Oper in Berlin in 1994. There he worked with the stage director Harry Kupfer until, in 2001, he grew tired of the decline in funding.
His Glyndebourne debut in 1992 — conducting Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s production of Jenufa starring Anja Silja — was described as “one of the most sensational debuts in living memory”. That year he also made his first appearance in London, with the Philharmonia, and in 1993 charmed the Proms audience with a searing account of Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony — a concert that included a dazzling performance of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto with his compatriot, Vladimir Ovchinnikov.
His debut at ENO was in Jonathan Miller’s production of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier in 1994, when he also returned to the Proms with the Australian Youth Orchestra.
Colleagues tried to dissuade him from succeeding Andrew Litton in the Bournemouth post, insisting that it was too far from the musical centre of London; but Kreizberg saw it as an opportunity to build up the ensemble. Among his many innovations was the commissioning of a work by Peteris Vasks, a Latvian composer, as well as new music from the British composer Judith Bingham.
After his initial foray into the Sussex countryside, Kreizberg enjoyed a number of visits to Glyndebourne, including with Kátya Kabanová, another Janácek opera, in 1998. He claimed that it was the only place to which he was prepared to commit for long seasons. “The best conditions in the world ... beautiful countryside, lots and lots of rehearsal, only London to go to”, he told an interviewer in 2006, the same year in which he conducted Phyllida Lloyd’s staging of Macbeth at the Royal Opera, starring Thomas Hampson.
He returned to St Petersburg in 2000 to conduct, but was disappointed by what he found. “All the best musicians have gone, and the orchestra plays badly,” he said of the once-mighty Leningrad Philharmonic. Back in the United States, in 2002, he conducted a two-week festival of Bernstein’s music in Minnesota and Janácek’s The Makropoulos Case at Chicago Lyric Opera; the following year he stepped in at short notice for the ailing Wolfgang Sawallisch with the Philadelphia Orchestra on a three-week, 13-concert tour of North and South America.
American musicians, however, didn’t really “get” Kreizberg; the Philadelphians, used to the gentler and more predictable ways of their regular maestro, took the unusual step of formally asking Kreizberg to moderate his tempos and tone down his exuberance on the podium.
He enjoyed a regular musical partnership, both in the concert hall and on CD, with the German violinist Julia Fischer, including an appearance together in the Brahms Violin Concerto at the Proms in 2008. He was also principal guest conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and worked with the Russian National Orchestra.
Kreizberg was thin and wiry, with a broad smile and a witty sense of humour. If he was at times demanding, both of himself and his musicians, he was also kind, and a true professional who was determined that the show should always go on. On one occasion, while conducting in Bournemouth, his arm froze after he slipped a disc; despite the intense pain, he used his thick, dark eyebrows and quizzical facial expressions to get through Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.
Despite several years of treatment for cancer, he conducted an all-Russian programme in Amsterdam on St Valentine’s Day before returning to his home in Monte Carlo, where last season he had been appointed artistic director of the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Yakov Kreizberg married the American conductor Amy Andersson, who survives him with their two sons.

Andrew Tait

Andrew Tait, who died on March 13 aged 88, was the former director-general and chairman of the National House-Building Council (NHBC) and has been credited with ending the practice of “jerry-building” in Britain; he later served as deputy chairman of the house-builders Barratt. 

Andrew Tait Andrew Tait

At the NHBC, Tait made it his business to improve the quality of new homes, introducing 10-year legal and insurance protection which benefited millions of British purchasers.
It has been a model for new home warranty programmes in Australia, Canada, Eire, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden — and in the United States, whose government circulated a memorandum commending the NHBC initiatives as an example of responsible free enterprise.
Tait believed that good regulation depended more on common sense than on an over-fussy adherence to rules. He emphasised that NHBC inspectors were not enemies of the builders or “snoopers”, but allies helping to improve the industry’s reputation and, therefore, the value of new houses. Good builders would be welcome; bad builders would not.
He introduced the successful “Pride in the Job” campaign which rewarded good builders with certificates, badges, ties, pullovers and — for national and regional winners — green blazers which were presented at a ceremony at a London hotel.
A keen golfer, he got the last idea from the green jacket awarded to the winner of the Masters golf tournament in America.
In 1979, confident that standards had now improved, Tait advised the NHBC that it should apply for government approval to be its own insurance company.
This was granted, and three decades on the NHBC has assets of more than £1.5 billion to assure adequate protection for home buyers.
Andrew Wilson Tait was born on September 25 1922 and educated at George Watson’s College, Edinburgh, where he had a “voice like a circular saw” (the music master) and the “best memory since the legendary Sir John Anderson 20 years earlier” (the history master). After wartime service in the Army he went up to Edinburgh University, where he edited the student magazine and took a First in History. A spell as a leader writer on The Scotsman was followed by an invitation to run the Scottish Information Office.
Tuberculosis was then prevalent, notably in the cities, and it was decided that it would be helpful if a majority of adults could be persuaded to have a chest X-ray. Tait decided to combine an appeal to reason with a dash of fun. More than 50,000 volunteers were recruited; logos on pavements read: “Let’s stamp out TB”; masked men gave random prizes only to those wearing the “X-rayed” badge of honour. In Glasgow, 715,000 were X-rayed in five weeks; the habit of spitting in public began to decline, as did the incidence of the disease. Similar results were achieved in other cities.
While at the Scottish Office, Tait was sent to the United States to investigate health education; his report was one of the factors which led to the establishment of the Health Education Council, now part of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
In 1962 he was ahead of his time with a plan to halve the number of smokers. His proposal that the price of cigarettes should be doubled — the idea being that the number of smokers would be halved while the tax revenue would remain about the same — was supported by the Scottish Office but rejected by Whitehall.
In 1964 Tait left the Scottish Office to join the NHBC as director-general; he served as its chairman from 1984 to 1987. After retiring from the NHBC, Tait was a director of Barratt (1988-96) and its deputy chairman from 1991. Sir Lawrie Barratt declared: “He saved the group by his leadership in the house-building collapse of 1990.”
Tait was also chairman of the New Homes Environmental Group from 1988 to 1991.
He continued to enjoy golf into his eighties, playing four rounds a week and carrying his own clubs. He was the author of Keep Young and Zimmer Free, published in 2010. He was appointed OBE in 1967.
Andrew Tait, married, in 1954, Elizabeth MacLennan, who survives him with two daughters and a stepdaughter.

Sir Graham Macmillan

As Central Office agent in Yorkshire and director of the party in Scotland, the avuncular, canny Macmillan was a mentor to constituency agents, a tactful coordinator of the voluntary party, and a wise guide to young candidates.
Sir Graham Macmillan
Sir Graham Macmillan
William Hague once confided that Macmillan “taught me all I know”, while Lord Deedes summed him up as “a practised hand at giving women in a committee room a squeeze warm enough to make their eyes sparkle, without disturbing their husbands”. He could fight his corner effectively, but was an honourable man who deplored duplicity and mischief-making by anyone in the party.
Alexander McGregor Graham Macmillan was born in Glasgow on September 14 1920 . Educated at Hillhead High School, he served in the Royal Artillery throughout the war and on demobilisation in 1946 determined to become a Conservative agent.
He began his career in the unpromising constituency of West Lothian, fighting the 1950 general election there before moving south to the safe Tory Haltemprice. He stayed in Yorkshire three years before moving to Bury St Edmunds, which became, after Scotland, his true home.
His talent was quickly recognised; in 1960 Central Office recruited him as its deputy agent for the North-West and a year later gave him the top job in Yorkshire.
Macmillan stayed 14 years in Leeds, upgrading the party organisation and bringing on a new generation of Yorkshire Conservative MPs while the party nationally was losing four elections out of five. No matter how unpromising the outlook, he always secured maximum effort from his troops — among them Hague, who burst on to the national scene as a schoolboy with a rousing speech to the party conference.
Macmillan also faced the challenge of Peter Walker’s local government reorganisation in which three new Yorkshire counties were created and many old authorities abolished, a process that bruised many egos.
While the first county elections were held at a difficult time for the Tories, Macmillan’s reshaped organisation performed well.
When, after Margaret Thatcher’s election as party leader in 1975, a new director was sought for the Scottish party to win back ground lost to the Nationalists, Macmillan was the obvious choice.
Based in Edinburgh and working directly to the Scottish party chairman, initially George Younger, he rebuilt morale in seats unexpectedly lost in 1974 and, despite being on permanent election alert, paved the way for Scotland to contribute to victory in 1979 with six net Tory gains.
This achievement was the more remarkable given that Macmillan had to keep the party organisation intact and battle-ready through the devolution referendum campaign of early 1979, in which some Tories, to Mrs Thatcher’s disapproval, campaigned for a “Yes” vote. It was the Labour government’s failure to gain the decisive “Yes” it sought — as Macmillan had shrewdly predicted — that triggered the general election that returned the Conservatives to power.
With the party in office, Macmillan faced a greater challenge: broad Scottish antipathy to Thatcherism, which polarised the party between moderates (many privately attracted to devolution) and an increasingly radical element. Labour’s unelectability and feuding within the SNP enabled him to hold the line in the 1983 election, but tensions behind the scenes were increasing and retirement with a knighthood the next year came as a relief.
Macmillan returned to Bury St Edmunds, and became chairman of the Mid-Anglian Enterprise Agency and a member of the Transport Users’ Consultative Committee for Eastern England .
Graham Macmillan married, in 1947, Christina Beveridge, who died in 1998. Their two sons and two daughters survive him.

Warren Christopher

Warren Christopher, the American former Secretary of State who died on March 18 aged 85, was maligned, often unfairly, as President Clinton's "flak catcher in chief" and blamed for many of the foreign policy mistakes of the early Clinton years. 

A transparently honest, decent man, Christopher had earned his diplomatic laurels as Deputy Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter when he negotiated the release in 1980 of 52 Americans held hostage in the embassy in Tehran, a tortuous process that became a model of American diplomacy – but came too late to rescue Carter's presidency.
As Secretary of State from 1993 to 1997, Christopher's evident strengths – in damage control and diplomacy – came to be seen as weaknesses. Loyal and hard-working, he seemed to regard himself more as Clinton's lawyer, taking instructions and making his case to other people, than as an independent policy-maker in his own right. Thus he never established an agenda of his own at a time when Clinton did not know his own mind; as a result he failed to articulate a vision of America's role and left office without leaving a significant mark on US foreign policy.
Hampered by a lugubrious manner and almost suffocating discretion, Christopher had a keen sense of his own limitations and was so modest that on one occasion he felt he had to tell the audience at a Washington conference about the Middle East who he was before he started talking. He was so anonymous that the Belgian Foreign Minister, Willy Claes, once referred to him at a Nato news conference as "Christopher Warren".
Yet the Clinton administration had come into office with a strong hand. The Cold War was over, the Soviet Union in ruins. There was a unique opportunity to build a new structure of American foreign policy. But while there were fine words, there was little "follow-through". Explicitly espousing a foreign policy of "assertive multilateralism," the new President launched an ambitious UN-led "nation building" exercise in Somalia. The experiment collapsed with the deaths of 18 Americans in Mogadishu in late 1993, and the vocabulary of "assertive multilateralism" largely disappeared.
Worse was to come the following year when the US and UN failed to react quickly enough to the unrest in Kigali which eventually led to the Rwandan genocide. In the course of some 100 days, between early April and July, at least 500,000 Tutsis were killed by Hutu militia.
Within the US, Christopher was especially censured for his perceived weak diplomacy in China. In March 1994 he paid a visit to Beijing to negotiate a renewal of China's low-tariff privileges, during which he appeared to be kowtowing to Beijing's leaders without gaining any concessions on human rights, despite the fact that Clinton had given the issue a high profile during the 1992 presidential campaign.
Christopher was sidelined during one of the few early successes of the Clinton era, Operation Uphold Democracy, which returned Haiti's popularly-elected President Jean-Bertrande Aristide to power in 1994 after he had been unseated in a coup. Christopher had opposed the mission led by Jimmy Carter to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis, and Carter later complained that he had had little co-operation from the State Department. Instead the initiative was taken by Clinton's national security adviser, Anthony Lake, and the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Colin Powell, who accompanied Carter to Haiti.
Of course Christopher could point to some achievements. In Europe, he promoted the Nato Partnership for Peace which led to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland becoming full members of the alliance in 1999. In 1995, working with John McCain, he persuaded Clinton that the time had come to normalise diplomatic relations with Vietnam.
His supporters also credited Christopher (and his chief negotiator Richard Holbrooke), with brokering the Dayton Agreement of November 1995 which brought an end to the conflict in Bosnia. However the talks came about after two and a half years of uncertain diplomacy which began with Clinton's accusation that the Bush administration was doing too little, then shifted to the view that the conflict was largely Europe's problem. During this time Christopher accused all sides in Bosnia of human rights abuses, apparently ignoring the role of Serbian leaders as inciters of genocide, and sidestepped European demands for American intervention to end a conflict which he had once described as a crucial test of the post-Cold War world's ability to cope with ethnic conflicts.
American weakness in coming to terms with Bosnia was underscored when Christopher made a disastrous trip to Europe in April 1993 at which a US plan to exempt the poorly-armed Bosnian government from a UN arms embargo, with a back-up option of targeted air strikes on the Serbs, was rejected. Unlike the US, the Europeans had thousands of peacekeeping troops on the ground, vulnerable to reprisals.
Christopher's main area of interest was the Middle East, where he was dogged in trying to achieve progress. In the wake of the Oslo Accords, he orchestrated an official signing ceremony in Washington in September 1993, with Mahmoud Abbas representing the PLO and Shimon Peres signing for Israel. He went on to broker a peace treaty between Jordan and Israel, eventually offering Jordan's King Hussein $200 million in military equipment and $700 million in debt relief to sweeten the deal. However his attempts to negotiate peace between Israel and Syria ended in stalemate.
Christopher's personal authority was undermined by constant speculation about his future. As early as 1993 The Economist was describing him as "the weakest link in Mr Clinton's trio of foreign policy advisers", and calling for his replacement. In 1994 there were authoritative reports that Anthony Lake had been trying to elbow him aside, complaining that the "paralysis" in the State Department was so severe he had been forced to seize control of foreign policy in a number of areas (including Rwanda and Northern Ireland) himself. Even the president was said to have criticised Christopher at high-level meetings, a humiliating experience for a senior cabinet member.
Christopher became so fed up that at one point he even secretly met Colin Powell to see if he wanted the job. When, in response to the rumours, he stated that news of his imminent departure or resignation were neither new nor accurate, The New York Times reported that State Department officials were interpreting the word "imminent" as "evidence that he might indeed walk out the door".
The usual courtesies were observed when Christopher left his post at the beginning of Clinton's second term in January 1997, but a truer judgment of his time at the State Department came with the ceremonial unveiling of his portrait at the department in 1999. "To anyone who has served in Washington," Christopher remarked, "there is something oddly familiar about [having your portrait painted]. First, you're painted into a corner, then you're hung out to dry and, finally, you're framed."
Warren Minor Christopher was born on October 27 1925 at Scranton, North Dakota, and raised in Los Angeles, where he attended Hollywood High School. In 1942 he entered the University of Redlands, but transferred to the University of Southern California to complete his studies. From 1943 to 1946 he served in the US Naval Reserve as an ensign in the Pacific theatre of operations.
After the war he enrolled in Stanford University's law school, qualifying in 1949. After graduation he was appointed clerk to Justice William Douglas of the US Supreme Court, but after a year returned to California and joined the Los Angeles-based law firm of O'Melveny & Myers, becoming a partner in 1958. From then on he split his career between practising law and public service.
Christopher served as special counsel to the California Governor Edmund Brown and vice-chairman of a commission established in 1965 to investigate the causes of the urban riots in Watts, Los Angeles. At the same time he served as a consultant to the State Department and helped to negotiate several international trade agreements. From 1967 to 1969 he served as Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President Lyndon Johnson and assisted in federal efforts to combat the urban riots in Detroit and Chicago in 1967 and 1968.
President Jimmy Carter called Christopher back to Washington in 1977 as deputy to the Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance. The release of the Tehran embassy staff seized as hostages by Iranian militants in 1979 was the crowning achievement of his career and in 1981, as one of his last acts before leaving office, Carter awarded Christopher the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.
Christopher returned to California where, in 1991, he was appointed to chair a commission to investigate charges of brutality and racism in the Los Angeles Police Department, set up after a videotape showing LAPD officers assaulting an African American man, Rodney King, caused public outrage.
In 1992 when Bill Clinton won enough votes in the primaries to be assured of the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency he asked Christopher to head the team to select a vice-presidential running mate (Al Gore). After Clinton's election victory in November 1992 he headed the new President's transition staff and advised him on his first round of cabinet appointments. In 1993 Christopher was sworn in as 63rd US Secretary of State.
Christopher retired to his home in California and continued to serve on foreign policy advisory boards. In 2000 he emerged briefly to supervise the contested Florida recount for Al Gore in the presidential election.
Christopher was the author of In the Stream of History: Shaping Foreign Policy for a New Era (1998), and Chances of a Lifetime (2001).
Warren Christopher's first marriage was dissolved, and in 1956 he married Marie Wyllis, with whom he had two sons and two daughters.