Thursday, 28 April 2011

Jean MacLeod

Jean MacLeod, who died on April 20 aged 103, was Britain's oldest romantic novelist and claimed to have written no fewer than 130 novels for Mills & Boon; in 2009 she celebrated turning 101 by starting work on the 131st.

Jean Macleod


To browse Jean MacLeod's backlist is to step back into a rose-tinted world of brooding, granite-jawed men and submissive, willowy maidens. Naturally, such titles as Stranger In Their Midst, Dangerous Obsession or Lovesome Hill were never tarnished by unseemly references to where the longings of the characters might lead. "I never use the word 'sex' in my novels," she insisted, "that is not what romance is about. It's about love and emotion."

Although she started her writing career in her early twenties, Jean MacLeod's heyday ran from the 1930s to the 1970s. Most of her stories were set in Scotland, and usually featured a laird –strong and silent, kilted, slightly older than the heroine, and perhaps embittered from a previous romance – waiting for the right girl to rekindle the flame within.
A synopsis of Jean MacLeod's 1967 novel The Master of Keills typified her style. "When Alison Dundas's sister Sherry decided that her acting career was more important to her than marriage, and forthwith called off her engagement, it was Alison who had the thankless task of breaking the news to Sherry's fiancé. But when she met Magnus MacLaren, the dour and proud Master of Keills, she found he had other ideas..."
An instinctive, fluent writer, her first novel, Life For Two, was published in 1938, making her one of Mills & Boon's first Scottish authors. She specialised in the allure of the Highlands and was said to be the only author on Mills & Boon's list who succeeded in making red-headed men sexy. As an author for the international Mills & Boon imprint, Harlequin Romance, Jean MacLeod's books won a global readership among Scots living abroad – notably in the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
Later in her writing career she also published under the name Catherine Airlie. But despite the shifts in name, tone and style that inevitably accompanied such a long career, her books were consistent in at least one regard. "All my stories had a happy ending," she said.
Jean Sutherland MacLeod was born in Glasgow on January 20 1908, the year in which Gerald Mills and Charles Boon set up in the publishing business. She was actually named Jane, but her grandfather complained it was not Scottish enough, and it was changed to Jean. Her father, an engineer, moved with jobs, and her education, which began at Bearsden Academy, continued in Swansea and ended in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Jean MacLeod began by writing stories for the magazine The People's Friend. One of the Boons at Mills & Boon spotted her work and offered her the chance to join their expanding list of authors.
Alan Boon, the original proprietor's son, gave his budding author advice that shaped her style: never write anything a mother would not want her daughter to read. So instructed, she began her prodigious contribution to the tally of 10,325 weddings, 29,500 kisses and 35,250 hugs featured in Mills & Boon titles during the firm's first 100 years.
She travelled frequently and, wherever she went, would use the location as the basis of another book. Her writing routine once home was well-regulated, and she rattled out her stories (never plotted in advance) on a manual typewriter, writing each morning from nine until noon, "so that I never burned dinner or the midnight oil".
Defying Dr Johnson's rather sweeping dictum about blockheads, Jean MacLeod never wrote for money. Her royalties were modest, and three years ago she earned a meagre £68 for her labours. "But the joy of knowing people were, and still are, enjoying my books is payment enough," she insisted.
It remains unclear how far she got with novel 131. But she never lost her relish for writing, and for a woman of her age retained an extraordinarily active mind.
Her historical novel The Dark Fortune, set in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, won the Romantic Novelists' Association historical award for 1962. Despite such accolades, her work was not always appreciated. She enjoyed, for example, a brittle friendship with the doyenne of the bodice-ripper, Barbara Cartland.
"Mills & Boon always had a champagne tent on Ladies' Day at Ascot for their authors," Jean Macleod remembered. "One year Barbara sauntered over and dismissively asked: 'Wearing the same outfit twice, Jean? Are things really that hard?' I didn't dignify it with a response – she was known for her sharp remarks."
Jean MacLeod married, in 1935, Lionel Walton, an electricity board executive who died in 1995. Two years ago their son, David, also predeceased her

Lord Ampthill

Lord Ampthill, who died on April 23 aged 89, was a theatrical impresario and deputy speaker of the House of Lords, but was perhaps best known as “the Russell baby”, whose paternity and conception were at the heart of one of the most sensational divorce cases of the last century and the subject of legal argument for more than 50 years.

Lord Ampthill at his London home Photo: Daily Mail/Rex
Geoffrey Russell, as he was until he was confirmed as the inheritor of the Ampthill barony in 1976, was the son of Christabel Hart, a soldier’s daughter who married in 1918 — against his family’s wishes — John Russell, heir to the 2nd Lord Ampthill. The barony had been created in 1881 for the diplomatist Lord Odo Russell, brother of the 9th Duke of Bedford, who was ambassador to Berlin and a friend of Bismarck.
John Russell was a gangling naval midshipman, nicknamed “Stilts”, who enjoyed going to fancy dress balls in drag. The unusually free-spirited Christabel, meanwhile, spent her evenings elsewhere in London dancing with a string of what her husband referred to as “detestable young men”, and sometimes spending the night in their company.
She denied any impropriety in these encounters, and once said she had married John because she thought other men would pester her less. She also said she chose him because he was unlikely to “bother” her: the marriage was — by both parties’ accounts — never fully consummated, and Christabel made John promise that they would have no children in the early years.
But in June 1921 she discovered — after a visit to a clairvoyant — that she was five months pregnant with Geoffrey. John denied paternity and promptly sued for divorce, claiming that no physical contact whatever had taken place between them since the previous August.
It transpired, however, that the couple had shared a bed for two nights just before Christmas 1920, at the Ampthill seat in Bedfordshire. According to Christabel, John had taken the opportunity to attempt what was referred to in accounts of the case as “incomplete” or “partial” intercourse — as it seems he had done on numerous previous occasions, which she described as “Hunnish scenes, usually preceded by threats to shoot himself and once to shoot my cat, which often slept on the bed”.
John was nevertheless convinced that he could not be the father of the child, and named two of Christabel’s men friends, Gilbert Bradley and Lionel Cross, as co-respondents. But matters were thrown into confusion by medical evidence that Christabel, despite her pregnancy, still showed “all the signs of virginity”.
Among the possibilities considered were that conception had somehow been achieved while John was sleepwalking, or (the celebrated “Sponge Baby” theory) by Christabel soaking herself in a bath which John had recently vacated. John himself asked a doctor, in all seriousness, whether a child born in October 1921 could have been conceived in August 1920.
Coverage of these speculations reputedly provoked King George V to object that “the pages of the most extravagant French novel would hesitate to describe what has now been placed at the disposal of every girl or boy reader of the daily newspapers”. The law was subsequently changed to prevent full reporting of divorce evidence.
At the first divorce hearing, the jury dismissed the possibility of Christabel’s adultery with Bradley or Cross, but failed to reach agreement on the possibility that Geoffrey’s father might still have been someone other than John — who proceeded to sue again, citing a new co-respondent, Edgar Mayer. A second jury found Christabel guilty of adultery with “a man unknown”, though not with Mayer, and granted John his divorce.
Christabel had by now achieved special notoriety in London society — when she dined at the Berkeley Hotel, fellow diners stood on their chairs to get a better look. But she refused to give up her fight for Geoffrey’s legitimacy.
Her first appeal was rejected, but in 1924 she took the case to the House of Lords, where deliberations hinged on a dictum of Lord Mansfield in 1777 that it was inadmissible for a husband or wife to give evidence of “non-access” which would have the effect of bastardising a child born in wedlock. The great advocate Lord Birkenhead, presiding, upheld this view, and the divorce was rescinded.
Christabel and John remained married in name until 1937, when she agreed to give him a divorce — which became absolute shortly after he had succeeded as the 3rd baron. Christabel, Lady Ampthill, as she then styled herself, spent most of the rest of her life hunting in Ireland.
After John’s death in 1973 the case was given another public airing, in franker terms than had been permissible in the 1920s. Geoffrey’s petition to the Queen for a writ of summons to the House of Lords was contested by the 3rd baron’s undoubted son (also called John) by his third wife — obliging the Committee of Privileges to decide between the two claimants.
It emerged during the hearing in February 1976 that Geoffrey had renounced his and his successors’ interest in the Ampthill family trusts in return for a £30,000 pay-off. More crucial, however, was the revelation that blood samples had been taken from Geoffrey, Christabel and the 3rd baron which might have been conclusive if Geoffrey’s solicitors had not belatedly refused to allow his to be tested.
According to the rival claimant’s barrister, this refusal followed an intervention by Christabel “because she knew perfectly well that the child was not Lord Ampthill’s”. Christabel herself died in Ireland a few days before the hearing, which found no grounds to overturn the previous Lords ruling on Geoffrey’s legitimacy.
Geoffrey duly took his seat as a cross-bencher, observing that he had taken a long time to reach the House and intended to make the most of his time there. Conscientious, amiable, diffident in manner, he was well liked by fellow peers.
He made his mark as chairman of the House catering committee, and in 1980 became a deputy chairman of committees. He was a deputy speaker from 1983, and chairman of committees from 1992 to 1994. In 1987 he became chairman of its Channel Tunnel Bill committee, which heard objections from Kent residents affected by the project. These included worshippers of the ancient Norse god Odin, who claimed their rites would be disrupted by passing trains: Lord Ampthill expressed sympathy, but pointed out the prohibitive cost of re-routing the line to avoid their sacred site near Maidstone.
Geoffrey Denis Erskine Russell was born on October 15 1921 and went to Stowe. After school he spent some months in Hungary, Switzerland and Monte Carlo before joining the Irish Guards. He was commissioned in 1941, and embarked for France with the Guards Armoured Division in June 1944; he was wounded and returned to England for hospitalisation, but went on to serve with Allied land forces in Norway in the autumn of 1945.
On demobilisation, Russell took a job at Fortnum & Mason, the Piccadilly grocers, where he was appointed general manager: angry customers who demanded to see him were shocked to find him so young, he observed. But in April 1951 he resigned abruptly following the ousting of Fortnum’s chairman, Col Ian Anderson, in a boardroom upheaval which resulted in control of the company passing to the Canadian bakery millionaire Garfield Weston. “I have nailed my flag to Ian Anderson’s mast,” was Russell’s parting shot.
He went on to become chairman of the New Providence Hotel Co, which developed a luxury hotel at Nassau in the Bahamas, and from 1953 he made a career in theatrical management, becoming managing director and owner of Linnet & Dunfee, the company which produced the first staging of Salad Days, several of Terence Rattigan’s plays and a string of other West End successes.
On one occasion, in 1970, Russell caused a stir in the theatre world by complaining to Scotland Yard that a production of Council of Love by a rival impresario, Donald Albery, at the Criterion, was blasphemous. The play, starring Warren Mitchell as the devil, was reported to involve “bare-breasted girls in an orgy during Mass”.
Having left the theatre business in 1981, Ampthill joined the board of United Newspapers — publisher of the Yorkshire Post and other provincial titles, and a wide range of magazines — as an ally of David Stevens (Lord Stevens of Ludgate). After United bought the Express titles, Ampthill was also deputy chairman both of Express Newspapers from 1989 and of United itself from 1991.
He was chairman of Dualvest, an investment trust venture, and a director of Leeds Castle Foundation. He was appointed CBE in 1986.
He married first, in 1946 (dissolved 1971), Susan Winn, a granddaughter of the 2nd Lord St Oswald and the 1st Lord Queensborough; Susan’s mother Olive was, by her third marriage, Lady Baillie, the celebrated chatelaine of Leeds Castle. Geoffrey and Susan had three sons (of whom one predeceased him) and a daughter. He married secondly, in 1972, Elizabeth Mallon (dissolved 1987).
The heir to the peerage is his son David, who was born in 1947.


Gilbert Gray

Gilbert Gray , QC, who died on April 7 aged 82, was among the Bar’s greatest orators, and was described as an heir “to the great gladiatorial titans vividly characterised by Anthony Trollope”

Gilbert Gray
A consummate criminal advocate, “Gillie” (as he was known to his friends) was admired for his devastating cross-examinations and rousing closing speeches to the jury. It was Robert Alexander, himself acclaimed by Lord Denning as the finest barrister of his generation, who linked Gray’s name with that of George Carman when he portrayed them as “the modern heirs” to Trollope’s legal titans.
Certainly Gray never shrank from the theatrical courtroom gesture, and would often quote poetry or Shakespeare. “Every line a headline, every phrase a gem,” noted junior prosecuting counsel, as Gray eloquently addressed the jury in his most famous case, that of the defence of Donald Neilson, known as “the Black Panther”.
Neilson, already accused of shooting dead three sub-postmasters, stood trial in 1976 for the kidnap and murder of the 17-year-old coach company heiress Lesley Whittle. She had been found naked and hanged in a drainage shaft at Bathpool Park, Kidsgrove, having been abducted from the family home in Shropshire in January 1975. A £50,000 ransom had been demanded.
Neilson pleaded guilty to kidnap and blackmail, but denied murder, leaving Gray with a Herculean task of advocacy. One of his tactics was to create what one observer called “a tonal doubt”, by introducing an unexpected note of humour:
“You have heard much,” Gray told the jury “about Mr Neilson and the Black Panther; but you may, when you have heard of this man’s pathetic attempts to 'make it big’, think rather of the Pink Panther and Mr Peter Sellers.” Gray even went so far as to portray the former Army lance-corporal as a Walter Mitty character with fantasies of military supremacy.
From his place on the bench, the trial judge’s son, the writer Adam Mars-Jones (just down from Cambridge and serving as his father’s marshal), would later record Neilson fixing Gray with a “stare of rage” at this “enormously unwelcome” line of defence. Gray, he added, appeared “bothered and almost distracted” in the sweltering courtroom, never ceasing to adjust his dress “as if the reasonable doubt of which he seeks to convince the jury were roving as an itch beneath wig and gown”.
He did not satisfy that itch, and Neilson was convicted on all but two of seven counts, receiving five life sentences. The trial had undoubtedly tested Gray to the limit, but he continued to flourish in countless other high-profile murder cases, occasionally reflecting on his early days in court when convicted defendants could be turned over to the hangman. He remembered correcting a young barrister who had arrived for his first capital case clad in his best pinstripe suit: “Always wear black for murder trials my boy, always wear black.”
He was leader of the North-Eastern Circuit from 1984 to 1987, entertaining many robing rooms with his stories. Meanwhile, in the courtroom itself, his colleagues wondered at his verbal dexterity: “He makes you feel as if English is not your first language,” declared one fellow Silk.
A celebrated raconteur and wit, Gray was in great demand as an after-dinner speaker. In one of his favourite jury stories, he related how “12 good men and true” were selected, but asked to wait at the back of the court while another case was concluded. The judge then invited them to “take their rightful place”. To a man, Gray recalled, “they climbed into the dock”.
Gilbert Gray was born on April 25 1928 at Scarborough, the son of a butcher. Educated at Scarborough Boys’ High School, he first encountered the richness of the English language at his local Salvation Army Hall and by listening to Methodist preachers. He would base his courtroom style on the rolling cadences he had heard as a boy.
After National Service in the Army, he went to Leeds University, initially reading Theology before switching to the Law. He was president of the Student Union in his final year and was called to the Bar in 1953.
Gray took Silk in 1971, developing a national and international reputation in civil as well as criminal law. He represented the disgraced Newcastle architect John Poulson at his appeal; appeared in the Spycatcher case in Australia, when the British government tried to block the autobiography of the former MI5 assistant director Peter Wright; and was involved in both the arms-to-Iraq trial involving senior executives of Matrix Churchill, and the Brink’s-Mat bullion robbery trial.
Gray also appeared for the former England football manager Don Revie in his case against a Football Association suspension, and, in 1980, for the family of Jimmy Kelly, a Liverpool labourer who had died in police custody the previous year. He appeared in public inquiries into the Selby coalfield, the Leeds airport expansion and, in 1987, the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry at Zeebrugge.
Gray also sat as a crown court Recorder between 1972 and 1998, often at the Old Bailey, and was proud to have spent 40 years as a Silk without retiring. He was head of York Chambers at his death.
Away from the courtroom, Gray stood unsuccessfully for Parliament for the Liberals in 1955 and 1959. He was an accomplished artist, and appeared as a panellist on Radio 4’s Any Questions.
An enthusiastic amateur sailor, he taught his children how to navigate back into Scarborough harbour by aiming for the painted white gable of their grandmother’s home. He never forgave Scarborough council for not renewing its contract with Max Jaffa, the musician whose concerts with the Palm Court Orchestra were broadcast from the resort by the BBC for 25 years. He was a keen supporter of the RNLI both at Scarborough, where he was station president, and nationally, becoming an honorary life vice-president.
Gilbert Gray married, in 1954, Dilys Thomas, who survives him with their two sons and two daughters. His ashes are to be scattered from the Scarborough lifeboat over the South Bay.

Eugene Fodor

Eugene Fodor , who has died aged 60, was an American violinist who dazzled the jury at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow 1974. He was known as the “Mick Jagger of the violin”, but 15 years later he was arrested, armed with a dagger, on drugs charges.

Eugene Fodor
Photo: The Washington Post
Not since Van Cliburn’s success in the piano section of the prestigious contest in 1958 had an American musician made such a mark in the Russian capital. In 1974, with the Cold War in deep freeze, it was unthinkable for such an event to honour an American. As a result, two Soviets – now long forgotten – were rustled up to share second prize with Fodor; no first prize was awarded.
Back home Fodor, the epitome of the rugged, strutting, horse-riding cowboy from Denver, Colorado, was rewarded with a pair of golden spurs, a motorcade and an exclusive contract with RCA Records. There were hundreds of engagements, appearances on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show, and invitations to the White House – as well as hordes of autograph-hunting girls screaming outside stage doors.
His was a brilliant style of performance, full of fiery showmanship, swagger and panache, demonstrated in music by composers such as Paganini, Sarasate and Szymanowski. For as long as his bow flew effortlessly across the strings, few questioned the depth of his talent or the profundity of his insights. But the critics, while admiring his trills, thrills and pizzicatos, were guarded in their praise.
If his rise was fast, his fall was slow. Gradually the flood of appearances turned into a trickle, the television spots became less frequent, and new incumbents of the Oval Office had their attention turned elsewhere. As his manager would later quip: “He’s no longer new and no longer young.”
Late on July 26 1989, Fodor was riding his bicycle at Martha’s Vineyard, New England, and stopped at a motel. Unable to rouse the manager he helped himself to a room but was discovered the next morning by a startled maid. The police found heroin, cocaine, a hypodermic needle and a dagger. A judge refused to accept his 300-year-old Guarnerius violin as surety.
Spiritual salvation came after a concert at an ashram in India the following year. He ended up staying seven weeks, discovering the principles of yoga and meditation that had earlier piqued the curiosity of musicians as diverse as Yehudi Menuhin and the Beatles. For Fodor the synergy was clear: “Violin playing will always be a form of mysticism for me,” he said.
Eugene Nicholas Fodor was born in Denver on March 5 1950, the grandson of Hungarian immigrants; his elder brother John would become leader of the Denver Symphony Orchestra. Growing up on a ranch, Eugene rode horses aged four and played the violin shortly afterwards. He was soon studying with Harold Wippler, leader of the Denver orchestra, and at the age of 10 played the Bruch Concerto with him. Fodor studied at the Juilliard School, New York, and than at the University of southern California (with Jascha Heifetz, who dropped him after two semesters for poor behaviour).
Success in the Paganini Competition in Italy in 1972 led to a London debut at the Wigmore Hall which, one critic noted, was a “gripping performance” and included “some stunning double stopping” in Ysaÿe’s Sonata. Urged on by his father he entered the Tchaikovsky Competition, where he met senior Russian musicians such as Leonid Kogan, David Oistrakh and Mstislav Rostropovich.
After his arrest Fodor was placed on probation for three years and entered rehabilitation. However, the image of the all-American hero was tarnished and the few engagements there had been all but dried up.
There were various comebacks, including a brief British revival in 1994 at the Wigmore Hall in which his unaccompanied playing was described by Jessica Duchen in The Strad as “rich in imagination”; in his accompanied playing, however, she could detect little discernible partnership with his pianist. Bizarrely, before the review appeared, Fodor submitted his own version to which he asked Duchen to append her name.
There were also gimmicks including, in 2008, a performance in Omaha, Nebraska, of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with each movement played on a different historic instrument. On another occasion he let it be known that he practised in an aquarium, communing with marine life as he played. He also posed, bare-chested save for his instrument, for After Dark magazine.
Eugene Fodor, who battle with drink and drugs and died of liver disease on February 26, married Susan Davis in 1978; they were divorced seven years later. He married, secondly, Sally Swedlund, and they were also divorced. Last year he and Susan Davis remarried. She survives him, as do two daughters and a son.

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba, who died probably aged 84, was India's most famous, and most controversial, Swami or holy man, and one of the most enigmatic and remarkable religious figures of the last century.

Sathya Sai Baba
Photo: EPA
To his followers, Sai Baba was a living god; a claim he did nothing to disavow. He would frequently liken himself to such figures as Christ, Krishna, and the Buddha, claiming that he was the avatara of the age – an avatara being a living incarnation of the Divine. To his detractors he was a charlatan, albeit one of considerable ingenuity and enormous personal charisma and power.
From humble beginnings, his following grew until by the end of the 20th century it was estimated to number more than three million people around the world.
This made him a powerful and influential figure in Indian social and political life; he numbered many high-ranking politicians and public figures among his devotees and several Presidents and Prime Ministers, including Deva Gowda and Narasimha Rao, found it politically expedient to make their way to his ashram in the town of Puttaparthi in southern India to be photographed paying their respects.
Sai Baba's reputation was founded largely on claims of his miraculous powers. These included the apparent ability to materialise various tokens of devotion, such as amulets, rings and pendants, out of thin air; to produce "vibhuti", or "holy" ash in prodigious amounts from his fingertips; and to manifest fully formed lingams (ellipsoids made of crystal or quartz) from his stomach by regurgitation.
These feats made him the target of numerous sceptics and debunkers, who claimed that the "materialisations" where little more than legerdemain which could be replicated by any competent Indian street magician. Sai Baba consistently refused to have his powers scientifically scrutinised, explaining that they were "part of the unlimited power of God. You call them miracles, but for me they are just my way."
Such is the mixture of myth, fabulation and hagiography that grew up around Sathya Sai Baba that the facts of his life are hard to establish. He is thought to have been born, as Sathya Narayana Raju, on November 23 1926, into a poor farming family in the village of Puttaparthi, in the arid state of Andhra Pradesh.
According to legend, as a child he would avoid places where animals were slaughtered and bring beggars home to be fed. At the age of 14, after apparently being bitten by a scorpion, he began to display signs of delirium and hallucinations. Convinced that he was possessed, his parents summonsed a local exorcist who shaved the boy's head, scored four X's into his scalp, and poured the juice of garlic and lime into the wounds. Shortly afterwards, he declared himself to be a reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, one of southern India's most revered saints, who died in 1918. Challenged to prove his claim, he is said to have thrown some jasmine flowers on the floor; in falling the flowers arranged themselves to spell out the name "Sai Baba" in Telugu.
Leaving his family, he travelled throughout southern India, gathering followers around him, and in 1950 he inaugurated his first ashram in Puttaparthi.
Sai Baba professed that his mission was ecumenical: the emblem of his organisation included symbols of all the world's great faiths, but his message was essentially drawn from Hindu teachings about man and God being inseparable by virtue of the atman, or eternal soul – the "universal divine spark" which is present in all beings. The atman, he declared, "can be known only through love" – a philosophy that he distilled in the maxim: "Love all, serve all."
All men, therefore, are God. But to his devotees Sai Baba seemed to be more God than most. One of his closest disciples, Professor N Kasturi, the author of a four volume biography, described him as "a multi-faced avatar" – the embodiment of Rama, Christ, Krishna, Buddha and Zoroaster. Perhaps his most unlikely champion was a Vatican priest, Don Mario Mazzoleni, who in 1990 published a book, A Catholic Priest Meets Sai Baba, in which he declared that Christ and Sai Baba were the same manifestation of God on earth. After refusing an invitation from the Vatican to "retreat from his heretical doctrinal positions", Mazzoleni was excommunicated in 1993.
Sai Baba frequently talked of himself as being "the Supra-worldly Divinity in Human Form", and the World Saviour. When American devotee and biographer, Dr John Hislop, asked him directly whether he claimed to be God, Sathya Sai is said to have replied: "Let us say, I am the switch."
Sathya Sai's message and his alleged miraculous powers brought him an enormous following not only in India, but also in the West. This went far beyond the hippies and spiritual seekers who had made their way to India in the Sixties in search of enlightenment. The numerous Sai groups that proliferated in Europe, America and Australia were liberally peopled with physicians, psychologists and teachers. By the 1990s the tiny village of Puttaparthi had swollen to the size of a town and an airport was built to accommodate the growing numbers of pilgrims.
Twice a day Sai Baba, a stocky figure in a red, floor-length robe, his head crowned in a frizzy halo of black hair, would appear for "darshan" in the ashram's main temple. He would move among the adoring crowds, sometimes "materialising" vibhuti into outstretched hands and summoning favoured devotees for private audiences. His followers would frequently talk of miraculous healings, of being "called" to him in dreams and visions, and of Sai Baba being able to read their minds – powers that were widely held among the faithful to be evidence of his "omniscience", and which sceptics dismissed as either self-delusion or an expert use of the technique of "cold reading", whereby facts are drawn out of a subject and fed back to them later without them realising it. An Icelandic researcher, Professor Erlendur Haraldsson conducted interviews with 29 subjects on Sathya Sai's mind-reading abilities. Of these, 19 reported that he had done so correctly, and five only partially correctly. One woman whom Sathya Sai advised "should get married" was married already.
As his organisation grew, Sai Baba established an extensive network of schools and colleges throughout India, and his programme of Education in Human Values (EHV) was adopted by schools in Europe and America. The most extravagant display of his largesse was the Rayalaseema water project, inaugurated on his 70th birthday, which provided water to more than 750 villages and several towns in Andhra Pradesh.
In 1991 he inaugurated the Sathya Sai Super-Speciality Hospital, which provided a range of medical services, up to major heart surgery, free of charge to local villagers. The hospital, which was designed by Dr Keith Crichlow, the director of the Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture, was largely funded by an American follower, Isaac Tigrett, who had co-founded the Hard Rock chain of restaurants.
Sai Baba always maintained a cloak of secrecy over his financial activities and the affairs of the ashram. In 1993 he was the victim of an apparent assassination attempt, when four armed men broke into his private rooms. His chauffeur and cook were murdered, but Sai Baba managed to escape unscathed. The intruders were shot dead by police. Thereafter, pilgrims entering the ashram had to pass through metal detectors.
According to ashram officials the assassination attempt was the result of a struggle between rival factions of devotees who had been denied positions of influence in the ashram. But the attempt on Sai Baba's life hinted at other, darker currents that had begun to eddy around his mission. Not least of these were allegations that young male devotees had been sexually abused by their guru in the course of private audiences. These allegations were given wider currency with the advent of the internet, and an international campaign by devotees in Europe and America calling for his prosecution. But Sai Baba seemed impervious to criticism. He was never investigated by the Indian authorities, and pilgrims continued to flock to his ashram in their hundreds of thousands.
Sathya Sai Baba was certainly wrong about one thing having, in 1963, announced that he would live until 2020. It remains to be seen whether another prediction is closer to the mark – that in 2028 his "third incarnation", Prema Sai, will be born in the village of Gunaparthy in Karnataka state. "With his [Prema Sai's] efforts, love, goodwill, brotherhood and peace will abound throughout the world," Sai Baba declared. "He will receive universal recognition from mankind."

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Phoebe Snow

Phoebe Snow
US folk and blues singer Phoebe Snow has died of complications from a stroke she suffered last year, aged 58.
The singer-songwriter, who was best known for her 1975 hit Poetry Man, had been in a coma since the stroke in January 2010, her manager said.
Snow largely dropped out of the public spotlight soon after her first album to care for her daughter who was born with a severe brain injury.
However she continued to make albums, releasing 16 during her career.
"Our treasured icon heroically fought for almost a year-and-a-half to come back, enduring bouts of blood clots, pneumonia and congestive heart failure ... until her body finally could take it no more," manager Sue Cameron said in a statement.
"Phoebe was one of the brightest, funniest and most talented singer-songwriters of all time and, more importantly, a magnificent mother to her late brain-damaged daughter, Valerie, for 31 years.
"Phoebe felt that was her greatest accomplishment," Ms Cameron added.
Born Phoebe Ann Laub in New York City in 1950, the singer changed her name after seeing Phoebe Snow, a fictional advertising character for a railroad, on trains that passed through her hometown in New Jersey.
Her acclaimed 1974 self-titled album debut reached number four in the chart, spawning the hit Poetry Man as well as earning Snow a best new artist Grammy nomination.
A year later, when Valerie was born with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain cavity, Snow decided to care for her at home rather than place her in a hospital.
Although she was not expected to live more than a few years, Valerie later died in 2007 aged 31.
"Occasionally I put an album out, but I didn't like to tour, and they didn't get a lot of label support," the singer told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008.
"But you know what? It didn't really matter because I got to stay home more with Valerie, and that time was precious."
Over the years, Snow performed with the likes of Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Chaka Khan and Jackson Browne and performed at the Woodstock 25th anniversary festival in 1994.
In 2003, she released the CD Natural Wonder, her first album of new, original material in 14 years.
She released her last album in 2008, titled Live.
A memorial concert is expected to be announced in due course.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Poly Styrene

Punk singer Poly Styrene, former singer with the X-Ray Spex, has died at the age of 53 after suffering from cancer.
Poly Styrene on Top of the PopsPoly Styrene formed a band after going to a Sex Pistols concert
She was one of the first female punk icons, whose unorthodox yet infectious style was highly influential.
Real name Marianne Elliot-Said, she had cancer of the spine and breast.
A statement on her official Twitter feed said: "We can confirm that the beautiful Poly Styrene, who has been a true fighter, won her battle on Monday evening to go to higher places."
Singer Billy Bragg was among those who paid tribute, saying: "Punk without Poly Styrene and the X-Ray Spex wouldn't have been the same."
Poly Styrene formed her band after watching the Sex Pistols perform on Hastings Pier on her 18th birthday and became known for her unpolished vocals and energetic rallying cries against consumerism and environmental destruction.
Poly StyrenePoly Styrene released her third solo album last month
X-Ray Spex's signature tune was Oh Bondage Up Yours!, a riotous rejection of social and gender norms that began with Poly Styrene's spoken line: "Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard."
The band released just one album, Germ Free Adolescents, in 1978, before splitting up.
The singer went on to record a more subtle and subdued solo album, Translucence, in 1980, before retreating from the music industry to join the Hare Krishnas.
She moved into a Krishna temple in Hertfordshire with her daughter, and struggled with bipolar disorder.
Boy George - who once tried to break her out of the temple - wrote on Twitter: "I was a fan of Poly before I got to know her, she was a Krishna follower too, oh bless you Polly you will be missed! Legend!"
Former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock praised the "general joie de vivre nuttiness" shown in songs like Oh Bondage Up Yours!
X-Ray Spex with Poly Styrene, rightX-Ray Spex, with Poly Styrene, right, recorded just one album before splitting up
"She wouldn't kow-tow to even what the punk fashions should be, I think that's what that song is about," he told BBC 6 Music.
"I did see her not that long ago so it's sad. Again, somebody from the punk rock scene has died far too young and it's a loss."
Billy Bragg told the radio station that Oh Bondage Up Yours! was a "slap in the face" to male punk bands and rock journalists.
"It's always hard for women in rock music but it was particularly hard in the 70s," he said. "I think she cut right through that. The work that she did and the things that she produced always stayed true to that original spirit of punk."
TV presenter Jonathan Ross said his first concert was an X-Ray Spex gig, adding that the singer had "changed lives".
Poly Styrene occasionally re-emerged into the limelight, and released her third solo album, Generation Indigo, last month.
"I know I'll probably be remembered for Oh Bondage Up Yours!" she told 6 Music last month. "I'd like to remembered for something a bit more spiritual."

Monday, 25 April 2011

Norio Ohga

Norio Ohga, who died on Saturday aged 81, drew upon his love of music to drive the Japanese electronics firm Sony through technological barriers; most famously he insisted that the Compact Disc store 74 minutes of sound so that he could listen to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony without interruption.

Norio Ohga
Photo: AP
His intuition that CD sales would outstrip vinyl was proved correct within a few years of the digital format's introduction in 1982 – the year that he became Sony's president and chairman. But consumers were not always ready for his other electronic leaps forward. Ohga poured resources into high-definition televisions 20 years ago; only now are they becoming standard.
His boldest move, however, was to transform Sony from a producer of music and video players into a global media brand with the capacity to deliver its own content for these machines. This was effected by hugely expensive acquisitions of a Hollywood studio, Columbia Pictures, and by promotion deals with music stars from Herbert von Karajan to Michael Jackson.
At Sony the talk was of a new synergy between "hardware" and "software". But while Ohga's vision of the multimedia age seemed prescient, Apple was to prove more adept at satisfying the demands of the new era. At the time of his death, many customers looking for ease of use and aesthetic appeal – the areas where Ohga had made his name at Sony – were turning elsewhere.
Norio Ohga was born on January 29 1930 and raised at his affluent family's summer villa on the coastal resort of Numazu, about 75 miles southwest of Tokyo. As a child he suffered from pleurisy and was spared war work, studying music instead. But he did not escape the conflict entirely unscathed, suffering a burn to his arm after a firebomb fell near his house in 1945.
After the war he pursued his singing at the National University of Fine Arts and Music in Tokyo. There his forthright attitude began to attract the attention of powerful figures. These included Genichi Kawakami, chairman of Yamaha, who offered Ohga a job after the young student delivered a pointed critique of Yamaha pianos. Ohga turned him down, instead issuing another blast, this time to Sony, about the newly-formed company's reel-to-reel tape recorder. This time Akio Morita, one of Sony's two founders, offered Ohga a position.
Ohga worked as a consultant for Sony until 1954, when he left to complete his musical training in Berlin. Though he was determined to make a career as a baritone, Sony continued to pay him a wage. The company's determination to hire him paid off in 1959, when Morita persuaded Ohga to join a sales tour which involved a sea journey to America. At the end of it, Ohga had agreed to join Sony as head of tape recorders and design.
Initially he tried to mix his corporate and musical careers. But after falling asleep during a production of The Marriage of Figaro, he retired from professional music.
Meanwhile his career at Sony blossomed. In 1961 he became head of its design centre, introducing the look and style of a generation of Sony products. At 42 he was named corporate managing director; at 46 deputy president. He and Morita were considered a perfect team – the charismatic chief leading Sony's business moves abroad while Ohga, a demanding details-man, kept the production line of must-have gadgets moving back at base.
Once at Sony's helm, he quickly looked to implement his multimedia strategy. In 1988 Sony bought CBS Records; Columbia followed the next year for $3.4 billion. The latter acquisition came freighted with other costs, including the disaffection of some in the American market who feared a "Japanese invasion of Hollywood". Though these takeovers dramatically expanded business, critics maintain that today, 11 years after Ohga left Sony, the company has still to cash in being both an electronics and entertainment giant.
While running Sony, Norio Ohga pursued his love of music, conducting celebrated orchestras in concerts organised by the company. He was also an accomplished pilot and frequently took the controls of the Sony jet. He is survived by his wife, Midori


Saturday, 23 April 2011

John Sullivan OBE

John Sullivan John Sullivan created TV hits Only Fools and Horses and Citizen Smith
John Sullivan, who wrote one of the best-loved British sitcoms, Only Fools and Horses, has died at the age of 64.
He had been in intensive care for six weeks at a hospital in Surrey, battling viral pneumonia.
He also wrote Citizen Smith, and his latest work Rock & Chips is due to be shown on BBC One on Thursday.
Sir David Jason, who played Del Boy Trotter in Only Fools and Horses, said he was "totally devastated" and would "miss him dreadfully as a friend".
He said: "We have lost our country's greatest comedy writer but he leaves us a great legacy, the gift of laughter. My thoughts at this time are with his lovely family."
BBC director general Mark Thompson said: "John had a unique gift for turning everyday life and characters we all know into unforgettable comedy."
The son of a plumber, he is survived by his wife Shirley and two sons, a daughter and two grandchildren.
Gareth Gwenlan, a producer of Only Fools and Horses, said Shirley was "obviously devastated" and had her family around her.
The Corporation's head of comedy Mark Freeland added: "No-one understood what made us laugh and cry better than John Sullivan.
'Heartfelt comedy' "He was the Dickens of our generation. Simply the best, most natural, most heartfelt comedy writer of our time."
Stephen Fry said he was "terribly saddened" by the news and described him on Twitter as "one of the great comedy writers of our time".
Only Fools and Horses - starring David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst as south London brothers Del and Rodney Trotter forever trying to make a quick fortune - was regularly voted Britain's favourite sitcom.
It ran for 10 years between 1981 and 1991, with several Christmas specials in the years that followed.
Only Fools and Horses Christmas special, 1983 Only Fools and Horses was regularly voted the greatest British sitcom
The 1996 special Time On Our Hands, which was billed as the final episode and saw Del Boy come good on his ambition to make himself and Rodney millionaires, was watched by more than 24 million people, a record for a sitcom in the UK.
The demand for follow-ups saw Sullivan eventually relent and return to the story of the Trotters from 2001 for occasional Christmas specials.
He also wrote a spin-off - The Green Green Grass, featuring Only Fools characters Boycie and Marlene - and a prequel, Rock & Chips, which documented Del Boy's early life.
John Sullivan, who was born in Balham, south London, in 1946, and always said his secret was that he wrote about what he knew, got his first job at the BBC as a scenery hand aged 16.
During his spare time he wrote sketches and got his first break when he submitted a script to well-known comedy producer Dennis Main Wilson, who loved it.
He was commissioned to write more episodes, given three months' paid leave, and ended up with Citizen Smith - a comedy starring Robert Lindsay as the young communist "Wolfie" Smith.
He once described Rodney from Only Fools and Horses as a "teeny bit me" because he was also a bit of a "naive dreamer" as a teenager.
And he said Del Boy was an amalgam of many characters he came across while working in the second-hand car trade in the 1970s.
He was appointed an OBE in 2005 for services to drama.

Celia Lipton

Celia Lipton, who died on March 11 aged 87, was a child star, known as the “British Judy Garland”, who went on to become a Forces sweetheart in the Second World War; later she gave up a successful stage career to marry the American inventor and industrialist Victor Farris and became the acknowledged 'Queen of Palm Beach society’.

Like any society hostess and former actress Celia Lipton was always vague about her age and was furious when a magazine obtained a copy of her birth certificate, showing that Celia May Lipton was born on Christmas Day 1923, at 73 Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh. Her father was an English violinist, Sidney John Lipton — as Sydney Lipton he would become one of Britain’s top bandleaders; her mother was May Johnston Parker, a dancer, singer and noted Scottish beauty.
When Celia was eight, her father formed his own band and took it to the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, where he was to remain for 35 years. Enthralled by watching the singers and chorus girls at the hotel putting on their make-up and diamonds to go on stage, Celia determined to go into showbusiness. Her chance came when, aged about 10, she spotted an advertisement asking for a Judy Garland sound-alike to play the lead in a BBC radio production of Babes In the Wood. Determined to get the part, she perfected Garland’s lisp and breathy singing style. When her parents refused to let her audition, she set off on her own and secured the part.
She went on to record more radio plays and albums and, aged only 15, appeared at the London Palladium. “My father was leading the orchestra,” she recalled. “He didn’t tell the audience who I was, he just said: 'There’s a little girl coming out, her name is Celia.’ I sang I’m Just In Between. It didn’t faze me. Everyone cheered, and then my father said: 'That was my daughter.’ It was thrilling.”
When the Second World War broke out, her father joined up as a private and was away from the family for seven years. As a result Celia became the family breadwinner. She sang to 2,000 troops at the Albert Hall, to severely disfigured men at the burns unit in East Grinstead, to the forces on the European front and at RAF hangars across the country, becoming known for Maybe It’s Because I’m A Londoner and You’ve Got Your Own Life To Live. With her mother as chaperone she toured Britain.
Her greatest triumphs, though, were her appearances as Peter Pan at the Scala Theatre, Tottenham Court Road, in 1943 and 1944 (the “best ever seen in a London theatre” according to one critic), and in Lionel Monckton’s 1944 revival of the light opera, The Quaker Girl, when she stepped in for Jessie Matthews at the last moment and received a dozen curtain calls on opening night at the Coliseum.
After the war Celia Lipton travelled to Paris and then the French Riviera where, on one occasion, she met the young Prince Philip of Greece, who offered to escort her to the casino in Cannes. “I asked him how we were going to get there and he said he’d borrowed a man’s bike and he put me on the back of it,” she recalled in 2004. “My dress kept catching in the back of the bike. I was lucky since I got to dance with him. He was an exceptionally good dancer.”
She also launched herself on a film career. After making her debut supporting John Bentley and Dinah Sheridan in Calling Paul Temple (1948), she appeared opposite Sonia Dresdel and Walter Fitzgerald in the adaptation of Joan Morgan’s novel, This Was A Woman (1948) and played Sandra in Terrence Young’s melodrama The Frightened Bride (1952).
In 1952 Celia Lipton moved to New York, where she joined the all-star revue, John Murray Anderson’s Almanac (1953-54) at the Imperial Theatre, Broadway, and appeared as Esmeralda to Robert Ellenstein’s Quasimodo in a television version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1954).
While in New York, she met Victor Farris. “I was returning some books to a friend and there was a man up on a ladder fixing a fan – my future husband,” she recalled. At first she thought he was a plumber and then, maybe, a member of the Mafia. In fact he owned 17 companies, was the inventor of the paper milk carton, the paper clip and the Farris Safety and Relief Valve, still used in shipping, oil and chemical industries. He was also a millionaire many times over. The couple wed in 1956, with Celia giving up showbusiness to devote herself to married life in New Jersey and, later, Florida.
Although the marriage was not without its difficulties — her relationship with her husband was sometimes volatile and Celia suffered ten miscarriages and gave birth prematurely to two babies who both died within a week — it was a happy one. At their sumptuous mansion in Palm Beach, once owned by the Vanderbilts, Celia became a leading society hostess.
When Victor Farris died of a heart attack in 1985, closely followed by her parents, Celia’s life altered dramatically again. Her husband had left her his £100 million fortune (an amount she more than doubled through shrewd investments over subsequent years), and she embarked on a new phase of her life as a philanthropist and charity fundraiser. “There are a lot of silly, socially competitive, frivolous women in this town who gossip, go out to lunch every day and dinner every night and that’s it,” she observed. “I’m delighted that I know what hard work is and proud of my Scottish mother and the good Scottish common sense she taught me.”
A convert to Catholicism, she raised large sums for the Salvation Army, the American Heart Association and cancer research charities. At a time when the disease was taboo she was one of the first big private benefactors of Aids research. Other beneficiaries included the National Trust for Scotland, the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, the American Red Cross, the Prince’s Trust and the Duke of Edinburgh Trust.
In addition she became Executive Producer of the American Cinema Awards in Hollywood (which raises funds for actors who have fallen on hard times); sang before the Queen at the 50th anniversary of VE Day in Hyde Park, made a brief screen comeback with Burt Reynolds in BL Stryker (1989-1990), and released a series of her own, self-financed, CDs. In 2008, she published her autobiography My Three Lives.
With her big stack of silvery-blonde hair, pillar-box red lipstick and tailored white suits, Celia Lipton retained the looks of a 1940s star. She lived surrounded by framed — often signed — thank you letters and photographs featuring Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Bob Hope, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, Pope John Paul II, Diana, Princess of Wales, and even John Major.
In her autobiography Celia Lipton related that she was “honoured to receive a letter informing me that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth had appointed me a Dame”, conveying the impression that she had been created DBE. In fact, in 2004 she was named a Dame of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, entitling her to place the letters D St J after her name. Nonetheless she headed her personal notepaper, Dame Celia Lipton Farris, and, in America, was announced by that style on social occasions.
She is survived by two adopted daughters

Ray Smith

Ray Smith, who died on April 17 aged 76, was the proprietor of Ray’s Jazz Shop, a gathering place for the London jazz world during the 1980s and 1990s. 

To stroll through Soho in those years, sporting the shop’s carrier bag with its distinctive black cat logo, was to feel like one of the elect. Georgie Fame wrote and recorded a song, Vinyl, in celebration of the place, and it was the first port of call for Slim Gaillard, the granddaddy of hip, when he landed in England.
Raymond Smith was born in Ealing on September 9 1934. From the mid-1950s he was a fixture of what would nowadays be called the “alternative” arts scene. He worked at Collett’s International Bookshop, which had outgrown various premises in Charing Cross Road before settling in New Oxford Street, selling books, jazz and folk records (the latter, Ray recalled, being “mainly Russian 78s”).
In 1976 the jazz and folk shops were hived off into curious, back-to-back premises where Shaftesbury Avenue and Monmouth Street converge, jazz facing the former and folk the latter. Collett’s gave up selling records in 1983 and Ray Smith bought the jazz business.
Among them, Smith and his managers (Matthew Wright, followed by Glyn Callingham) possessed a formidable store of expertise in an art notorious for the pedantry of its followers; but they managed to avoid the condescending attitude which marked some of their competitors. One product of their combined know-how was a special box, labelled Hens’ Teeth, containing rarities of great price, which sat on the counter under close surveillance.
Away from the shop, Ray Smith was a very respectable, semi-professional drummer. In the Fifties and Sixties he was a member of the band led by Humphrey Lyttelton’s former clarinettist, Wally Fawkes, although his own tastes tended towards more modern styles of jazz.
He enjoyed a long friendship with the Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. “Charlie used to come in the shop when he was 16 or 17 and buy records,” he recalled in an interview. “Then he’d trade them back again to buy bits for his drum kit.” Smith even lent Watts his own kit on occasion. There is a brief clip on You Tube of them in the shop celebrating Ray’s 40 years in the jazz business.
Ray Smith’s other passion was for cricket. He was a member of The Ravers, a side originally composed entirely of jazz people, although it now embraces showbusiness in general. He was a good enough spin bowler to be asked on several occasions to show some tricks of the trade to budding cricketers at Lord’s.
In 2002 an enormous increase in the rent at 180 Shaftesbury Avenue, together with a loss of trade to internet sales, forced him to close the shop. He sold the business to Foyle’s, the bookshop, where “Ray’s Jazz at Foyle’s” now occupies space on the third floor. It is no criticism of Foyle’s to note that it is not the same thing at all.
There are now no specialist jazz shops in central London, where there were once half a dozen. At their height they served as informal colleges of jazz appreciation, where lifelong friendships were formed, based on a love of the music. For some reason, they all had the same smell, redolent of dust, stale tobacco, and the interior of a very old and well-used trumpet case.
Ray Smith is survived by his wife, Wendy. There were no children.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Michael Sarrazin

Michael Sarrazin, who died on April 17 aged 70, enjoyed a spasm of fame as Jane Fonda’s co-star in Sydney Pollack’s 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? 

Michael Sarrazin Photo: Alamy
Nominated for nine Academy Awards, the film is a grim parable of American life set during the Depression. Jane Fonda — already an international star thanks to her performances in Cat Ballou (1965) and Barbarella (1968) — plays the ageing, cynical, damaged Gloria, who makes her way to Hollywood to try to make it as an actress; there she meets Robert Syverton (Sarrazin), whose fantasy has always been to be a successful director. They enter a gruelling dance marathon on Santa Monica Pier, with tragic consequences.
In an interview with the Toronto Star in 1994 Sarrazin recalled of the days on set: “We stayed up around the clock for three or four days .... We stayed in character. Pollack said we should work until signs of exhaustion. Fights would break out among the men; women started crying.”
Jacques Michel André Sarrazin was born on May 22 1940 in Quebec City and grew up in Montreal, first treading the boards at Loyola High School. According to his brother, Pierre, who later became a film producer: “He wasn’t a particularly good student, but he was a great actor, and the Jesuits and fellow students loved him. His first high school role was in The Bishop’s Candlestick, and he was very upset when he came offstage and everyone in the crowd was laughing. He thought they were laughing at him. They were laughing with him.”
Among the last actors to come up through the old studio system, Sarrazin was offered a contract by Universal in the mid-1960s after studying at the Actors’ Studio in New York. “None of us was surprised when Hollywood called for Michael because he was such a star in our family,” his brother said. “People from the next block were coming over saying 'I hear there’s a very funny guy, funny kid on the street’.”
After securing a role in the television series The Virginian, in 1967 Sarrazin appeared in Gunfight in Abilene, alongside the singer Bobby Darin, and in The Flim-Flam Man, starring George C Scott. In the following year he played a Confederate soldier in Journey to Shiloh (in the company of another aspiring actor, Harrison Ford) and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as a surfer in The Sweet Ride opposite Jacqueline Bisset — she and Sarrazin began a relationship that was to last for 14 years.
Those who thought that Sarrazin’s role in They Shoot Horses presaged a career as one of Hollywood’s major stars were to be disappointed. He was perhaps unlucky in failing to secure the role of Joe Buck in John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy (1969) — the part went to Jon Voight after the film’s producers failed to come to an agreement with Universal for Sarrazin’s services.
But his subsequent work was steady rather than spectacular, with parts in Sometimes a Great Notion (1970), based on Ken Kesey’s novel; The Pursuit of Happiness (1971); The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972); Harry in Your Pocket (1973); For Pete’s Sake (1974); The Gumball Rally (1976); Joshua Then and Now (1985); and Bullet to Beijing (1995).
There were many solid television roles, in series such as Street Legal, Murder, She Wrote and Alfred Hitchcock Presents; and he won particular praise for his performance in the made-for-TV film Frankenstein: The True Story (1973). His last appearance on television was in 2008, in the film The Christmas Choir.
In recent years Michael Sarrazin had returned to Montreal to be near his two daughters, both of whom survive him.

Gerry Alexander

This put him in an invidious position, as critics complained that first his place as wicket keeper in the West Indian team, and then his appointment as skipper, had been governed by racist considerations. Nevertheless, through determination, character and sheer decency Alexander eventually proved an inspired selection both as cricketer and as captain.
Gerry Alexander
Tom Graveney batting for England, with Alexander behind the stumps and Walcott at slip
Franz Copeland Murray Alexander, always known as Gerry, was born on November 2 1928 in Kingston, Jamaica. He attended Wolmer’s Boys School, a foundation which, dating back to 1729, is one of the oldest educational institutions in the English-speaking Caribbean. He then went up to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he soon proved his sporting prowess. A soccer Blue, he went on to win an England amateur cap and an FA Amateur Cup winner’s medal.
In cricket Alexander was for two seasons (1952 and 1953) the university’s wicket keeper; in both years he averaged over 30 with the bat. In 1952 the Cambridge side contained four Test players — David Sheppard, Peter May, John Warr and the South African Cuan McCarthy — but were unable to force a win at Lord’s.
In 1953, with a theoretically weaker side, the Light Blues triumphed over Oxford by two wickets. Alexander played a key role, top-scoring with 31 in the first innings, and — notwithstanding an injured hand — taking a catch to dismiss Colin Cowdrey for a duck in the second innings.
In 1954 and 1955 Alexander turned out for Cambridgeshire. Back in the West Indies, in 1957 he was picked for the team to tour England on the strength of his performance in a trial match, in which he shared a ninth wicket stand of 134 with the young Wes Hall.
He had, though, played only twice for Jamaica, against the Duke of Norfolk’s XI. His detractors reckoned that there were better wicket keepers on the island, such as Alfred Binns and Jackie Hendriks, not to mention Andy Ganteaume in Trinidad, Clifford McWatt in British Guiana, and Clairmonte Depeiza in Barbados.
In England, Alexander at first seemed out of his depth when keeping to the spinners, having especial trouble in “reading” Sonny Ramadhin. For the first three Tests Rohan Kanhai was preferred behind the stumps. Alexander, however, made his international debut in the fourth game at Headingley.
By that time the morale of the West Indies team had collapsed, and both the Headingley and the Oval Tests were lost inside three days. With the retirement of John Goddard, there was a desperate need for a new skipper to restore the team’s fortunes.
For the first time the selectors seemed prepared to consider a black captain. Frank Worrell, however, declined the job on account of his studies in Economics at Manchester University. Somehow Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott, both great senior players, were considered unsuitable. Instead the selectors turned to Gerry Alexander, whose wicket keeping seemed unreliable, and whose Test scores had been 0 not out, 11, 0 and 0.
Yet through patience, skill and encouragement, Alexander succeeded in forging the array of talent in the West Indies side into a coherent and successful team.
In 1958, in the home series against Pakistan, he led them to victory by three Tests to one. Moreover, he seemed far more competent behind the stumps when keeping to fast bowlers on hard wickets, than he had appeared when faced with the puzzle of Ramadhin and Valentine in England. Alexander also performed better with the bat against Pakistan, not least with a critical 57 in the second innings of the second Test in Trinidad.
On the tour of India in 1958-59 the West Indies were for the first time since the war without all of the “three Ws”: Worrell, Weekes and Walcott. Nevertheless, Alexander’s team succeeded in winning three Tests and drawing the other two. On the one occasion that the West Indies seemed in trouble, against the leg-spin of Subhash Gupte in the second Test at Kanpur, the captain saved the situation with a fighting innings of 70.
Crucial to the West Indies’ success was the performance of two new fast bowlers, Roy Gilchrist and Wes Hall. Gilchrist, however, was a loose cannon, who seemed to bear special animus against the captain, a fellow Jamaican, albeit vastly more privileged.
On the other side, Alexander deprecated Gilchrist’s tendency, when angry or frustrated, to bowl highly dangerous beamers. During the Test series these antipathies were with some difficulty kept in check.
Against North Zone in the last match of the tour of India, however, Gilchrist unleashed murderous beamers against a batsman called Swaranjit Singh, whom Alexander had known at Cambridge. The captain’s order that Gilchrist should immediately cease this vicious form of attack was ignored.
At the lunch interval Alexander substituted Gilchrist. Later, after a meeting of the selectors, Gilchrist was sent home, while the rest of the party proceeded to the next part of the tour, in Pakistan. Alexander broke this news unceremoniously to the malefactor: “You will leave by the next flight. Good afternoon.” Gilchrist never again played for the West Indies. There was lurid gossip that he had pulled a knife on Alexander.
In Pakistan, without Gilchrist, the West Indies lost the first two Tests, before achieving a crushing victory, Pakistan’s first home defeat, in Lahore.
In 1960 Alexander was disappointed to lose at home to England, though he claimed 23 victims behind the stumps in the series, equalling John Waite’s world record for South Africa.
There had been angry riots when the West Indies capitulated in the second Test in Trinidad. The white Jamaican Alexander was not easily forgiven by the crowd, despite holding off the West Indian collapse with a fighting 28, the top score of the innings.
The return of Frank Worrell to the West Indies side — he made 197 not out in the first Test — led CLR James, the editor of Nation, to campaign for Alexander’s replacement as captain. In the upshot, Worrell was chosen to lead the forthcoming tour to Australia.
Alexander accepted the decision in good part, proving a loyal lieutenant to Worrell, a close friend. The dismissed captain had taken over a side in total disarray and laid the foundations for future triumphs. The West Indies had acquired a strong team spirit, while players such as Garry Sobers, Rohan Kanhai, Wes Hall, Lance Gibbs, Conrad Hunte, Joe Solomon and Basil Butcher all blossomed.
Relieved of the cares of leadership, Alexander surprised everyone by becoming extraordinarily prolific with the bat during the tour of Australia in 1960-61. In the Tests his scores were 60, 5, 5, 72, 0, 108, 63, 87 not out, 11 and 73. His century at Sydney, which set up a West Indies win, was the only one of his first-class career. (He had made 99 for Cambridge University against Nottinghamshire in 1953, before hitting a full toss into the hands of mid-on.)
In Australia, Alexander again performed well behind the stumps. Richie Benaud, the Australian captain and a great admirer, remembers how, in the celebrated tied Test in Brisbane, Alexander, facing into the sun, collected Hunte’s throw and hurled himself at the stumps to run out Wally Grout, who was trying to sneak a third and winning run off the penultimate ball.
After that series Alexander retired from cricket, and returned to the West Indies to concentrate on his career as a veterinary surgeon, eventually becoming Chief Veterinary Officer. In his 25 Tests he had scored 961 runs at an average of 30.03, while as wicket keeper he had claimed 85 catches and five stumpings. In his 92 first-class games he made 3,239 runs and averaged 29.18; he held 217 catches and pulled off 39 stumpings.
Gerry Alexander, as the great Australian bowler Alan Davidson has remarked, “upheld all the virtues of cricket”. In 1982 he received Jamaica’s Order of Distinction for his outstanding contribution to sport.
His wife Barbara predeceased him by four weeks; they had two children