Friday, 20 May 2011

Wallace McCain

Wallace McCain, who died on May 13 aged 81, became a billionaire by selling more frozen chips than anyone else in the world, having co-founded the McCain Foods empire with his elder brother – with whom he later fell out. 

Wallace McCain Photo: REUTERS/CORBIS
This year, Forbes Magazine ranked McCain at No 512 on its annual list of the world's billionaires, estimating his personal net worth at $2.3 billion (£1.45 billion). Described as "a steely-eyed, hard-nosed capitalist", McCain also earned a reputation for salty language.
With his brother Harrison, Wallace McCain founded McCain Foods in Canada in 1956, building it into one of the world's largest frozen food companies. It was said that McCain fries were darker and tastier than American imports because they were cooked longer before being frozen.
It now operates in 44 countries and produces more frozen oven-ready chips than any other company in the world. By 2002 the chipping plant at McCain's British head office near Scarborough was processing an average of 1,200 tonnes of potatoes each day.
The brothers' success story began a little more than 50 years ago, when they followed in the footsteps of their father, who owned a seed potato exporting business in their home town of Florenceville, New Brunswick (pop 1,000). They hired 30 employees at their new plant and sold $152,000 worth of chips in 1957, their first year.
But as more consumers demanded the convenience of prepared foods, the company expanded over a 15-year period into Britain – where it opened its first factory in 1969 – Australia and the United States.
Throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, McCain gobbled up European and American businesses, moving into the frozen pizza, vegetable and fish processing markets, as well as the juice business, while increasing its number of plants around the world.
But in 1994 Wallace McCain was forced out as co-chief executive officer after a bitter public feud with his elder brother about who would take over the company. Wallace wanted his son, Michael, to take charge, but Harrison preferred outside managers. Eventually the courts sided with Harrison, who later went on to name his nephew, Allison McCain, as his successor. Harrison McCain died in 2004.
"The biggest thing that happened to me in the past 25 years –and in my life –was being dumped from McCain Foods," Wallace told a reporter in 2009. But he remained a board member and continued to hold a one-third interest.
Though forced to leave the company he had helped set up, he was unable to stay away from the industry that had made him a billionaire. In 1995 he bought Maple Leaf Foods, a Toronto-based maker of delicatessen meats, bread and other prepared foods. Under McCain's supervision the company grew to more than 21,000 employees, and is now run by his son Michael.
Both brothers were famous for lacing their business dealings with lashings of bad language. One former provincial premier, Frank McKenna, joked that if they were ever prevented from swearing, they would become functionally illiterate. McKenna said that after spending time with the McCains, he had to take time off to cleanse his own vocabulary.
George Wallace Ferguson McCain was born on April 9 1930, the youngest son of AD McCain, a potato seed exporter and founder of McCain Produce. Wallace descended from a long line of Irish potato farmers who emigrated to Canada in 1825 to seek a better life in the New World.
By all accounts, the young Wallace was something of a hell-raiser, and he was reportedly sent down from Acadia University in Nova Scotia for "carousing". "At Acadia I didn't do any work," he admitted later. "It was a Baptist school and I was in trouble all the time." Matters did not improve at the University of New Brunswick, and it was only when he settled at his third college, Mount Allison University, that he knuckled down to his studies, graduating in 1952.
Having joined Green Grass Insecticides as a salesman, McCain soon moved on to a hardware company, and rose to the rank of general manager. He and his brother then explored a number of ideas for a start-up business of their own before Robert, another older brother, suggested they consider frozen food.
Although the technology that made frozen food possible was in its infancy, both Wallace and Harrison quickly grasped the possibilities and founded McCain Foods in 1956, focusing initially on French fries.
Despite his colourful language, McCain's air of brash exuberance was tempered by a self-deprecating manner. While Harrison, with his "motor mouth and million-dollar smile", was the front man, Wallace McCain, with a quieter brand of charisma, tended to remain in the background.
The brothers set about building a global organisation from their base in the Canadian sticks, taking off on a Sunday night or a Monday morning from the tiny airstrip at Florenceville in their corporate jet and returning on a Thursday or Friday. At the height of their empire-building, Wallace McCain estimated he spent about 140 nights a year sleeping aboard the aircraft.
Wallace McCain would often work 18-hour days. But unless he was travelling, he made a point of eating breakfast and dinner with his family every day, and scheduled his work abroad to bring him home at the weekends. Both he and his wife fostered a strong family and work ethic. All four of their children lived within 10 minutes of their parents.
McCain was also renowned for his philanthropic activities, fundraising for the Canadian National Ballet School, and establishing an entrepreneur training institute in his name at the University of New Brunswick."I liked making money," he once said, "but I love giving it away even more."
In 1995 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest honours.
Wallace McCain married, in 1955, Margaret Norrie, whose father founded the Malartic Gold Mines. She and their four children survive him.

Samuel Wanjiru

Samuel Wanjiru, who has died after falling from a balcony at his home aged 24, was Kenya’s first Olympic marathon champion; he took the gold medal at the Beijing Games in 2008, and his time of two hours, six minutes and 32 seconds, shaved nearly three minutes off the previous Olympic record set in 1984 by Carlos Lopes of Portugal. 

Samuel Wanjiru
Samuel Wanjiru after winning the gold medal for the marathon at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing Photo: GETTY
Wanjiru’s personal best time — two hours, five minutes and 10 seconds — came in the 2009 London Marathon. He also won the 2009 Chicago Marathon, which put him top of the 2008-09 World Marathon Majors rankings and earned him $500,000.
His victory at Chicago in 2010 — when he recorded the fastest time ever recorded in an American marathon — meant that he was the youngest runner to win four major marathon events.
Samuel Kamau Wanjiru was born in Kenya on November 10 1986, a member of the Kikuyu tribe. Brought up in poverty by his mother, Hannah, he dropped out of school at the age of 12. He had already caught the attention of Francis Kamau, a coach with the Mutual Fair Exchanges athletics club; and under the club’s auspices, Sammy finished third in the Kenya National Primary Athletics Championships 10,000m race when he was 14. Lack of money, however, prevented further progress, and Sammy returned to his home.
He was soon offered a place at the Mt Kenya High Altitude Training Camp in Nyeri, where he was spotted by Sunnichi Kobayashi, a Japanese athletics promoter based in Kenya.
In March 2002 Kobayashi arranged for the boy to move to Japan, where he was enrolled in Ikuei Gakuen High School in the northern city of Sendai.
Sammy later said: “My mother was very happy because she had no money to send me to high school. It changed my life.”
He learned to speak Japanese, developed a taste for sushi, and trained hard as an athlete, often running 12 miles a day. As a member of the high school’s athletics team, Sammy excelled at ekiden (a long-distance relay race) and went on to win major cross-country events. In 2005 he joined the Toyota Kyushu athletics team.
Wanjiru’s next stop was Europe. In 2005 he won the Rotterdam Half Marathon in a world record time. In March the following year he took the Fortis City-Pier-City Half Marathon at The Hague, in the Netherlands, with a time of 58:33, another world record (for that achievement he received $25,000, which he donated to a children’s home in Nyahururu where his mother worked).
In 2007, back in Japan, Wanjiru progressed to the full marathon, winning the Fukuoka marathon with a course record of 2:06:39. The following year he finished second in the London marathon before going on to win the gold medal in Beijing.
He attempted to defend his London marathon title in the 2010 London marathon, but retired in the middle of the race so as not to aggravate a knee injury. It was the first time in six marathons that he had failed to finish.
Wanjiru did not take part in this year’s race in London, perhaps owing to personal problems that suggested that his life might be beginning to unravel.
Last December he was charged in Kenya with threatening to kill his wife, Tereza Njeri, and with illegal possession of an AK-47 assault rifle. In February this year Tereza withdrew her accusation of attempted murder, saying that they had been reconciled. “I have come to tell the court that we have solved our differences. Our matters will be settled out of the courtrooms,” she said.
But Wanjiru was still due to appear in court — on May 23 — on the firearm charge. He had also suffered minor injuries in a car crash in January after he swerved to avoid an oncoming truck.
On May 15 Sammy Wanjiru fell from a balcony at his home in Nyahururu, in the Rift Valley 150 kilometres north-west of Nairobi, suffering fatal injuries. Local police said it appeared that Wanjiru had taken his own life after a row with his wife, who had unexpectedly returned home to find him entertaining another woman.
He is survived by his wife and their daughter.

Terence Longdon

Terence Longdon, who died on April 23 aged 88, was a character actor who specialised in seduction, lounge-lizardry and murder conspiracies; he made his name, however, as the airline adventurer, Garry Halliday. 

Terence Longdon
Longdon in 'The Return of Sherlock Holmes'  Photo: ITV / Rex Features
Longdon played Halliday, in the series of the same name, for 50 episodes. Eventually, however, its Biggles-style stories began to look dated, and it was replaced by Dr Who.
As an actor Longdon, adept with the whisky decanter and soda siphon and elegant in his tailoring, could also appear to have emerged from a bygone era. In an earlier generation, for example, his stage manners and good looks might have taken him to the very top of his profession. But by the 1950s and 1960s public affection for the smoothness of performances like his, however skilled the technique, was dwindling.
The Secretary Bird Theatre Programme None the less, his affable persona proved a reassuring presence on stage, for example as John Brownlow, the eligible (but "not unduly flash") lover in William Douglas Home's The Secretary Bird (l968-71).
In the play Brownlow is poised to steal away the wife of a writer until the potential-cuckold contrives for him to fall for a different woman instead; it proved Longdon's longest engagement, and he played the part over a thousand times during a run of 1,463 performances.
The son of Joseph Longdon and his wife Florence Violet (Tully), Terence Longdon was born at Newark-on-Trent on May 14 1922 and educated at Minster Grammar School, Southwell. He trained at Rada from l946-48 and first appeared on the professional stage aged 26, at the Lyceum, Sheffield, in The French for Love.
Parts in three West End productions soon followed: John Gielgud's revival of Euripides's Medea with Eileen Herlie in the title role; Terence Rattigan's play about Alexander the Great, Adventure Story, starring Paul Scofield; and Gielgud's production of a modern comedy, Treasure Hunt, by MJ Farrell and John Perry.
Longdon soon joined the Shakespeare Memorial Company at Stratford-on-Avon for three seasons under Anthony Quayle's direction. His roles there included Prince Hal – his favourite part of all – to Quayle's Falstaff in Henry IV part I; Oliver in As You Like It; and Cassio to Quayle's Othello. Having toured Australia with the company, he joined, in 1954, the Old Vic company for an American tour, making his New York debut that year as Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
His first West End crime play was William Fairchild's The Sound of Murder, in which he schemed with his mistress to dispose of her husband, a popular children's author (Peter Cushing). After the short-lived Golden Rivet by Laurence Dobie and Robert Sloman, and another short run as Mr Darcy in an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Longdon emerged strongly in 1967 as the tall, handsome Colin, lover of his crippled brother's wife, in Somerset Maugham's The Sacred Flame.
Later that year he played opposite Faith Brook and Felicity Kendall at the Savoy in Minor Murder, based on the true story of two schoolgirl friends who murder one of their mothers when she threatens to separate the pair. The same venue then became his home for several more years for The Secretary Bird. Its success shaped his next roles and in Francis Durbridge's Suddenly At Home Longdon played the conceited but likeable Sam Blaine, a detective story writer and the former lover of a wealthy woman whose husband plots her murder.
Other West End stage credits included Mr Davenport in Rattigan's Cause Célèbre, and the farces Charley's Aunt (with Griff Rhys Jones), When Did You Last See Your Trousers? and Paris Match.
He best film role was as Drusus in Ben Hur (1959); he also appeared in several Carry On films.
Between acting engagements Longdon proved himself an unusually accomplished golfer, buttonholing colleagues at leading clubs into betting on rounds and usually winning.
He married first, in 1953 (dissolved 1960), the actress Barbara Jefford. He married secondly, in 2004, Gillie Conyers, whom he had known since 1987 and who survives him.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Dolores Fuller

Dolores Fuller, who died on May 9 in Las Vegas aged 88, was the muse and girlfriend of Ed Wood, the screenwriter and director responsible for films such as Bride of the Monster, Jail Bait and The Sinister Urge; in 1980 — two years after his death — he won the accolade “Worst Director of all Time”.

Dolores Fuller
Dolores Fuller (complete with her famous angora sweater) and Ed Wood in 'Glen or Glenda' Photo: ALAMY
There were those who considered that Dolores Fuller was his equal in the acting department. Her most notable role was in Wood’s picture about cross-dressing and transsexuality, Glen or Glenda (1953), which has become something of a cult classic.
She also starred in Wood’s Jail Bait (1954), alongside the bodybuilder Steve Reeves, and had a role in Bride of the Monster (1955), in which a mad scientist kidnaps 12 men with a view to turning them into supermen by using atomic energy; the scientist was played by the former Dracula star Bela Lugosi, a fixture in many of Wood’s films.
Dolores Fuller was much more successful as a lyricist, writing the words to a number of songs performed by Elvis Presley in his films, including Rock-a-Hula Baby for Blue Hawaii (1961). She also penned lyrics for Peggy Lee.
She was born Dolores Eble at South Bend, Indiana, on March 10 1923, but at an early age was taken by her mother to live in Hollywood. Her first venture on to the big screen came at the age of 10, when she made a fleeting appearance in Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934), starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Asked in later life what she remembered of the great star of Gone With the Wind, she confided: “He had very bad breath and would munch on peppermints.”
On leaving high school, Dolores auditioned for parts in early television dramas. “I did the tours of movie studios in heavy make-up and my mother’s fur coat trying to look older than my years,” she recalled. Her break, if such it was, came when she was introduced to Wood in a Hollywood restaurant and immediately fell in love. “He was completely devoted to me,” she said, “and by casting me as his leading lady wanted me to make it big in the movies. His dressing up didn’t bother me — we all have our little queer habits.”
Wood liked to wear Dolores’s clothes — most famously her white angora sweater, which he featured in Glen or Glenda. She stored the sweater in a freezer and continued to wear it when she appeared at film conventions across America.
When the couple finally split up, Dolores Fuller blamed the break-up on Wood’s alcoholism, claiming: “He woke up drunk.”
She gave up acting in the late 1950s and went on to found her own record company, Dee Dee Records, helping to launch the careers of Johnny Rivers and Tanya Tucker.
Dolores Fuller was portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker in the 1994 biopic Ed Wood, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Wood. She declined an offer to make a cameo appearance, and made no secret of her dislike of the film. Towards the end of her life she appeared in two films released on video: The Ironbound Vampire (1997) and The Corpse Grinders 2 (2000).
In 2008 she published an autobiography, A Fuller Life: Hollywood, Ed Wood and Me, co-written with Stone Wallace and her husband, Philip Chamberlin.
To the end she defended her former lover’s reputation: “The films may have been as cheesy as hell, but they have made a mint in sales on video and DVD. Today I believe Eddie would look at his cult position in film history and smile widely.”


David Mason

David Mason, who died on April 29 aged 85, was principal trumpet, at various times, at Covent Garden and the Royal Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras, but he became better known as the piccolo trumpet soloist on the Beatles’ 1967 hit Penny Lane.

David Mason


According to the group’s producer Sir George Martin, it was Paul McCartney who had the idea of adding a trumpet solo to the song after watching Mason play in a performance of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. “There’s a guy in them playing this fantastic high trumpet,” Martin recalled the Beatle saying. Mason arrived at the recording session with nine trumpets and,“by a process of elimination”, it was agreed that the B-flat piccolo trumpet, an octave above the normal, was best suited to the task.
“It was a difficult session, for two reasons,” Martin recalled. “First, that little trumpet is a devil to play in tune, because it isn’t really in tune with itself, so that in order to achieve pure notes the player has to ‘lip’ each one. Secondly, we had no music prepared.” Many professionals bridled at such disorganisation. Happily, Martin recorded, “David Mason wasn’t like that at all. Paul would think up the notes he wanted, and I would write them down for David. The result was unique, something which had never been done in rock music before, and it gave Penny Lane a very distinct character.”
Some Beatles historians have claimed that his solo was speeded up on the final recording, but Mason always denied this. “They were jolly high notes, quite taxing, but with the tapes rolling we did two takes as overdubs on top of the existing song.” Once finished, Mason was told that Penny Lane was to form the B-side to Strawberry Fields. He protested: “I much prefer this to Strawberry Fields.” (“Oh, thanks mate,” replied that song’s composer, John Lennon). In the end the songs were released back-to-back as a double A-side.
David Mason was born in London in 1926 and educated at Christ’s Hospital and the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Ernest Hall. For most of the Second World War he was too young for military service and therefore picked up work in orchestras whose trumpeters had been called up. By the time he was called up to serve in the Scots Guards, he was the youngest member of the then National Symphony Orchestra.
After leaving the RCM, Mason became a member, then principal trumpet, of the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, moving on later to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, then the Philharmonia, where he remained for most of the rest of his career. As a much-loved professor for 30 years at the RCM he taught many of today’s leading trumpet players.
Among other performances, Mason was the flugelhorn soloist for the world premiere of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No 9 in 1958. He also contributed to several other Beatles’ songs, including A Day in the Life; Magical Mystery Tour and All You Need Is Love.
He is survived by his wife, Rachel, and by their son and daughter.

David Sencer

David Sencer, who died on May 2 aged 86, was a leading American health official who became the fall-guy for alleged planning failures during a series of public health scares. 

public health scares.

David Sencer


As director of the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1966 to 1977, Sencer, a respected scientist, was credited with expanding the role of the agency to include family planning, tobacco control and occupational health. He initiated campaigns on malaria and nutrition and also framed guidelines for quarantining astronauts returning from the moon, which it was feared at the time might be a source of extraterrestrial pathogens. Under his leadership the CDC also led a programme that contributed to the worldwide eradication of smallpox. Yet when health issues entered the political arena, Sencer was caught between politicians’ demands for answers and the scientific language of probabilities.
His troubles began in February 1976, when a swine flu virus attacked more than 200 soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, causing severe respiratory disease in 13 and one death. Fearing a rerun of the 1918-19 “Spanish flu” pandemic, Sencer advised the White House that the nation should be vaccinated, arguing that the whole American population was “probably susceptible to this new strain”. Six weeks later President Gerald Ford declared the government would vaccinate “every man, woman and child” and asked Congress for an emergency $135 million appropriation.
The mood of panic was exacerbated in July when a group of veterans at an American Legion convention at a Philadelphia hotel were struck down with a mystery lung infection (subsequently known as Legionnaire’s disease), from which 34 died. Amid the mounting hysteria, Sencer dispatched 20 epidemiologists to investigate, but it took several months to determine the cause, which turned out to be a strain of bacteria found in the hotel air-conditioning system. As a result he and the CDC drew criticism for what one congressman termed “a decided lack of organisation”.
With the trauma of the Legionnaire’s outbreak still fresh, the nationwide flu vaccination programme began on October 1. Over the next three months, a third of the adult population of the United States — 40 million people — received the vaccine. But while the flu failed to take hold, doctors began reporting dozens of cases of side effects from the vaccine, particularly a debilitating, and occasionally fatal, disorder of the nervous system known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome. On December 16 the programme was suspended, condemned as a fiasco.
Sencer was relieved of his responsibilities by the incoming Carter administration in 1977.
David Judson Sencer was born on November 10 1924, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where his father, who died when David was four, was in the furniture business. After winning scholarships to the Cranbrook School and Wesleyan University, he joined the US Navy which sent him to medical school at the University of Mississippi. He completed his medical degree at the University of Michigan.
He decided on a career in public health after spending two years recovering from tuberculosis, later earning a master’s degree in public health at Harvard. He joined the US Public Health Service in 1955 and the CDC, as assistant director, in 1960.
After leaving the CDC Sencer worked briefly in the private sector, before his return to public service in 1982 as New York City health commissioner under mayor Ed Koch in the early years of the Aids epidemic. There Sencer argued that drug addicts should be issued with free needles and opposed efforts to close gay “bathhouses”, saying that closure would merely drive the disease underground and make it more difficult to promote the message of safe sex. Again, he found himself in an impossible position – attacked both by moral campaigners accusing him of condoning drug use and immorality and by gay rights groups for dragging his feet.
Despite these travails, he remained involved with the CDC and advised the agency during the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
David Sencer is survived by his wife, Jane, and by their son and two daughters.


Thursday, 12 May 2011

Ernesto Sábato

As an existentialist his work was contemporaneous with, rather than influenced by, figures across the Atlantic such as Camus and Sartre. Both Frenchmen admired his writing, as did Graham Greene, Thomas Mann and, later, Salman Rushdie.
Ernest Sabato
Ernest Sabato
A new “boom” of Latin American writers, including the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez, were also influenced by Sábato, taking his style on to what became known as “magic realism”.
His reputation as an author was assured when, aged 72, Sábato was asked to look into the disappearances of thousands of Argentines under the military regimes of 1976-83. Having been appointed in 1983 by the new democratically-elected president, Raul Alfonsin, he chaired a commission whose report detailed the abductions, tortures or murders of close to 9,000 people.
It was not this that proved so shocking, however, as most Argentines already knew of the deaths and in fact believed the actual toll to be closer to 30,000.
What resonated instead was Sábato’s sudden and public judgment on recently untouchable demagogues and the fact that such figures now faced prosecution – although most of them would eventually be granted amnesty. As a result of Sábato’s work, democracy, for the first time in generations, became tangible to most Argentines.
Sábato’s weighty document was titled Nunca Más (Never Again) but became widely known as “The Sábato Report”. As a cornerstone of the newly-established democracy, it helped efface the nation’s pariah status and so contributed to subsequent economic growth. Sábato explained that his figure of 8,960 desaparecidos (disappeared) was as much as his commission could prove during its nine-month investigation. Completing the report, he said, was “like a slow descent into Hell”.
Ernesto Roque Sábato was born in Rojas, in the pampas of Buenos Aires province, on June 24 1911, the 10th of 11 children of Italian immigrant parents whose families had moved to Calabria from Albania. His father, Francisco, started a bakery which he named Francisco Sábato & Sons while his two boys were still at school, and graduated to owning the local flour mill. Ernesto was introverted, had loud nightmares and regularly sleepwalked.
He graduated from the National University of La Plata with a PhD in Physics in 1938 before travelling to Paris on a research fellowship in atomic radiation at the Curie Institute. “I assisted in breaking the uranium atom,” he once wrote, a “race” which was “being disputed by three laboratories. I thought it was the beginning of the apocalypse.”
In Paris he fell in with artists of the Surrealist movement: “I buried myself with electrometers and graduated cylinders during the morning and spent my nights in bars with the delirious surrealists.” But his daytime work left him feeling “empty” and, after a further spell as a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he decided to quit Physics. “War was approaching, a war in which science was going to be the instrument of mechanised slaughter.” He decided he could have more influence as a writer.
Over subsequent decades “el Maestro”, as his compatriots came to refer to him, wrote thousands of influential essays, short stories and magazine articles. But he published only three novels. Those were enough, though, to win him the Cervantes Prize, the most coveted award among Spanish-language writers, in 1984. His lack of published output, he explained, was because he had a tendency to burn in the afternoon what he had written in the morning – it was not that he was making a point of “being existentialist”. He suffered from depression – nothing really mattered, good or bad. “It may be because I considered that all my work was imperfect, impure, and I found that fire was purifying,” he once said.
It was Sábato’s first novel, El Túnel (The Tunnel, 1948), that brought him to the attention of writers such as Camus and Sartre. A dark, psychological novel relating the confessions of a painter, Juan Pablo Castel, who has murdered the only woman who ever understood him, it is considered a existentialist classic. Camus praised its “arid intensity” and ensured that it was published in French, while it has recently been republished by Penguin Modern Classics. His later books, Of Heroes and Tombs (1962) and The Angel of Darkness (1974), put him on a par, in the eyes of Spanish-language critics, with his compatriot Jorge Luis Borges, although the latter would gain more international fame. The great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda once said: “Sábato’s writing shows greater vitality and imagination that anything since the great Russian novels of the 19th century.”
In 1987 France recognised Sábato’s work by appointing him a Commander of the Légion d’honneur.
Ernesto Sábato’s wife, Matilde (née Kusminsky-Richter), whom he married in 1936, died in 1998. His eldest son, Jorge, died in a road accident in 1995. He is survived by his younger son, Mario, a well-known filmmaker, and his companion of several years, Elvira González Fraga.

Henrietta Llewelyn Davies

Henrietta Llewelyn Davies, who died on March 15 aged 56, was a “psychic astrologer” with a degree in English Literature from Oxford and a client list which included barristers, publishers, writers and investors — not the sort of people usually associated with an interest in reading the stars. 

Henrietta llewelyn Davies
Henrietta Llewelyn Davies 

Henri Llewelyn Davies, as she was known, provided advice on anything from buying property and the stock market to plots of novels, plane journeys, contracts, interior design, jobs and personal relationships. As her website informed putative clients: “If you would like a telephone reading from her, you may ask questions about absolutely any area of your life — anything from, for example, 'What’s my Spiritual Path?’ or 'Tell me about my relationship’ (or work, or money) to 'small’ but vital things such as 'Should I change my car?’.”
“I open my mouth and things fly out,” she explained, though she saw herself as a counsellor as much as soothsayer: “I’ve always dealt mostly in emotional traumas. Everyone knows the world is in a state of flux. The divorce rate is 1.5 in 3”.
Justine Picardie, who consulted her when preparing her novel Daphne, based on the life of Daphne du Maurier (a relation of Henri’s), recalled that when she mentioned that her book would be published in May 2007, Henri Llewelyn Davies remarked matter-of-factly, “I don’t think so.” “Though I very much wanted her to be wrong, she turned out to be right,” Justine Picardie wrote.
Jeanette Winterson was an enthusiastic devotee, claiming that she never made an important decision without consulting Henri Llewelyn Davies first. The two women first met in 1987 when Jeanette Winterson wanted to draw up an astrological birth chart for a novel she was planning. “Henri said I wouldn’t write the novel, and she was right,” she recalled.
As she learned about astrology Jeanette Winterson became more and more amazed by her new friend’s powers of prediction: “Not long after we’d met, Henri said to me, 'You really should give up karate.’ I hadn’t even told her I went to karate classes, but I took no notice, and promptly dislocated my shoulder that night.”
When Miramax bought the film rights to one of her novels, Henri predicted they would never make the film; they never did. On another occasion she advised Jeanette Winterson not to buy a house she had set her heart on; later a farmer obtained planning permission for six properties in the neighbouring field and the people who had bought the house sold at a loss.
Henrietta Llewelyn Davies was born in London on September 12 1954, under the star sign Virgo, into an extraordinary family. Daphne du Maurier (whose short story Don’t Look Now revolves around the role of a psychic) was the first cousin of her grandfather, Jack Llewelyn Davies, one of the five “Lost Boys” adopted by JM Barrie who inspired him to write Peter Pan. Her great-grandmother, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, was played by Kate Winslet in Finding Neverland, and Sylvia’s father, George du Maurier, was the author of Trilby, the novel that introduced Svengali into popular culture. A great-great grandfather was chaplain to Queen Victoria.
Henrietta’s mother – also named Sylvia – was a single parent, and supported herself and her daughter with a career in advertising (she came up with the slogan “Cheese, please, Louise’’). But Sylvia died of breast cancer when her daughter was 15 and Henri was sent to boarding school, which she hated. Holidays were spent at her grandmother’s house in Cornwall, where she met Daphne du Maurier.
Henri went on to study English Literature at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. After graduating she worked for the publishers Hamish Hamilton, but was fired from her job. Soon afterwards she found an out-of-print book on astrology by Louis MacNeice and discovered her “calling”.
She began travelling, learning about astrology in India. For years she wrote horoscope columns for Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Own, TV Times and other publications, while also offering private consultations. One of her best pieces of advice was to tell a woman not to buy a house in California; it burned down two weeks later following an earthquake.
She experienced a growing awareness of her own psychic powers: “I would often hear voices, very clearly, telling me what to say to a client about their particular circumstances. I found that I could use the birth chart as a basic tool... but that the most extraordinary advice was just coming through. Over and again, clients would tell me how right the advice had been. And I would suddenly know things I couldn’t know in normal life.”
While Henri Llewelyn Davies was prepared to give advice on almost anything, she would never predict illnesses, tragedies or death: “I am not given that information,” she explained. “I can warn, and I can see patterns, but the chart is not destiny, and the voices I hear always concentrate on the ray of hope.”
Henrietta Llewelyn Davies is survived by her partner, James Manning.

John Walker

John Walker, who died on May 7 aged 67, founded The Walker Brothers, the American trio which came to Britain in the 1960s and briefly rivalled in popularity The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. 

John Walker
John, Scott and Gary Walker Photo: Dezo Hoffmann / Rex Features
The Walker Brothers specialised in heavily-produced, booming, often lachrymose ballads which — along with their good looks — found particular favour with teenage girls. The group consisted of John Walker on guitar, Scott Engel on bass and Gary Leeds on drums; they were not related, and each adopted the surname Walker.
Their hits included The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore; Love Her; Make it Easy On Yourself; and My Ship Is Comin’ In. John Walker and Scott Engel provided the vocals, although the latter was always regarded as the more charismatic. John himself admitted: “I haven’t got the same kind of depth to my voice that Scott has, but I do have a good voice for the up-tempo discs. ”
John Walker was born John Joseph Maus on November 12 1943 in New York, but the family moved to California when he was three. He began as a child actor, appearing alongside Betty Hutton in the television sitcom Hello Mom, but in 1957 formed a duo, John and Judy, with his sister. They later met Scott Engel, and, with “Spider” Webb on drums, performed as Judy and the Gents.
John began using the professional name Walker when he was 17 . By late 1964 he, Engel and Gary Leeds had formed The Walker Brothers in Los Angeles — and it was Leeds, who had toured Britain with PJ Proby, who is said to have suggested that they try their luck on the other side of the Atlantic. It was an era when the ambition of most British bands was to crack the American market.
“Gary said we could do really well there,” Scott recalled later. “I wanted to get out of America anyway and go to Europe because I’d always been a European film freak. I wanted to see if I could meet Ingmar Bergman and a few other people. So the three of us came over and started going slowly broke. Nothing was happening and we were freezing to death. Straight from California to this in February 1965.”
In June that year, however, the group had its first big success, reaching the Top 20 with Love Her. They appeared on the television show Thank Your Lucky Stars, on which they were mobbed by female fans, and their next single, Burt Bacharach’s and Hal David’s Make It Easy On Yourself, went straight to No 1 that August. At Christmas the group was at No 3 with My Ship Is Coming In, and in March 1966 they scored their second No 1 with The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.
This proved to be the height of The Walkers’ popularity. Relations between John and Scott were becoming strained, and in April 1967 they played what turned out to be their last British gig, at the Granada in Tooting. Scott announced that he was leaving the group, John Walker remarking: “If Scott quits then that’s it as far as I’m concerned – he is the Walker Brothers.”
John Walker came up with a solo hit, Annabella, and a couple of albums, If You Go Away and This Is John Walker; Scott embarked on his own successful solo career.
In 1975 The Walker Brothers re-formed and attempted a comeback, and a single — a version of Tom Rush’s No Regrets — made the UK’s Top 10. But three albums later, in the late 1970s, they again went their separate ways.
In the late 1980s John Walker moved to San Diego, where he established his own recording studio. He also formed his own publishing company and record label. He remained popular in Britain, where he toured as part of a Silver 60s show until his health declined. Last December he was diagnosed with liver cancer, but he continued to work until only a few weeks ago, making his last concert appearance in Los Angeles in March.
In 2009, with Gary Leeds, he published a book, The Walker Brothers: No Regrets — Our Story.
John Walker was four times married, and is survived by his fourth wife, Cynthia, and by two sons and two daughters.

Dana Wynter

A dark-haired, pale-skinned beauty, Dana Wynter (playing Becky Driscoll) was more than qualified to scream and clutch the arm of her love interest, Dr Miles Bennell, as they fled (unsuccessfully, in her case) the extraterrestrial scourge. Filming got under way in 1955, at the height of Joseph McCarthy-inspired hysteria about Reds under the bed.

Dana Wynter and her co-star Kevin McCarthy on the film's poster
“It was just supposed to be a plain, thrilling kind of picture,” Dana Wynter recalled in 1999. “That was what Allied Artists thought they were making.” But after its release in 1956 it soon became clear that the plot, in which a small-town doctor learns that the population of America is being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates grown in pods, was being credited with a double meaning.
Both the director, Don Siegel, and the scriptwriter, Dan Mainwaring, denied any such subtext. But Dana Wynter insisted that the cast “realised that we were making an anti-ism picture. Anti-fascism, anti-communism, all that kind of thing.” Certainly it is hard to avoid the hint of a political message when the leading man, desperately seeking to alert his fellow Americans to the looming menace, turns to camera and shouts: “They’re here already. You’re next.” Either way, the film was an instant box-office hit.
Dagmar Winter was born in Berlin on June 8 1931, the daughter of a surgeon, Peter Winter. Her family soon moved to England. A few years later her parents divorced and she moved with her father to Southern Rhodesia. Following graduation from a private school she trained in Medicine at Rhodes University in South Africa. She also tried her hand at amateur theatre there, and returned to England in the early 1950s to take up acting seriously.
During a performance at the Hammersmith Apollo she was spotted by an American agent and a few bit parts followed, including in Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951), co-starring Diana Dors, and The Crimson Pirate (1952), with Burt Lancaster as the swashbuckling hero. In November 1953, having changed her name to Dana Wynter, she set out to try her luck in Hollywood.
There, despite initial disappointment in film, she stayed to carve out a career for herself in television. In March 1955 she won a Golden Globe Award for “Most Promising Newcomer”, and was placed under contract with Twentieth Century Fox, making her debut in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Despite excellent reviews Dana Wynter was unable to replicate her success, appearing mostly in war movies – such as D-Day the Sixth of June (1956) – and on television. She appeared in series including Hart to Hart, The Rockford Files and Magnum P.I., returning to the big screen for two cameo roles: in Airport, which reunited her with Burt Lancaster, and in Triangle (both 1970).
From 1978 to1980 she played Jill Daly in the soap opera Bracken, with Gabriel Byrne. It began her love affair with Ireland, where she bought a house in Co Wicklow. Her final role was as Raymond Burr’s wife in The Return of Ironside (1993).
Dana Wynter was married to the Hollywood lawyer Greg Bautzer. She is survived by her son.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

David Cairns

David Cairns

The former Scotland Office minister and Labour MP David Cairns has died after an illness, it has been confirmed.
The Inverclyde MP was taken into intensive care in March, suffering from acute pancreatitis.
The 44-year-old had been receiving specialist treatment at University College London Hospitals.
A Labour spokesman, said: "David's untimely death is a huge loss to parliament and politics in this country."
Tributes to Mr Cairns flooded in from across the Labour Party when the news was announced.
Confirming the news, a statement from the party, said: "It is with great regret that we have to announce that David Cairns, member of parliament for Inverclyde, passed away at 2300 last night at the Royal Free, London.
"David had been suffering from acute pancreatitis after he was admitted as an emergency patient eight weeks ago.

David Cairns - background

David Cairns was born and raised in Greenock, the town he later represented in the Commons.
He attended Notre Dame High School, training as a priest before finding his way into Labour while director of the Christian Socialist Movement.
Mr Cairns was elected MP for Greenock and Inverclyde, as the seat was then called, in 2001, after having worked for Micham MP Siobhan McDonagh.
Before becoming an MP, parliament had to reverse a law dating back to the 19th century, which banned former Catholic priests from taking up a seat.
He was returned as MP for Inverclyde in the 2005 election and was appointed as a Scotland Office minister.
In 2008, the Blairite became the first UK minister to resign during a period when rebel MPs had been calling for a leadership contest during Gordon Brown's time as prime minister.
Mr Cairns had said the time had come to "allow a leadership debate to run its course".
Glasgow South MP Tom Harris, who was the first Scottish Labour MP to call on Mr Brown to stand down as prime minister, said Mr Cairns "knew more about David Bowie than David Bowie did", and changed his ring tone so that "rebel, rebel", would play whenever he got a call from the Inverclyde MP.
As a backbencher, Mr Cairns piloted legislation to protect shop workers from being forced to work on Sundays and served as a member of the Culture Select Committee at Westminster

"Our thoughts are with his partner Dermot, his father John and his brother Billy and all his many friends and family."
Scottish Labour leader, Iain Gray, said of the one-time Catholic priest: "He was a man of enormous dignity, courage and outstanding intellect.
"His time as a minister was characterised by good humour, good judgement and good character. He had so much more to give his party and his country."
Labour leader Ed Miliband, added: "David will be missed beyond measure as a former minister, as an MP, as a friend and a colleague by many people and my heart especially goes out to his partner Dermot and his family in Scotland.
"A highly effective minister of state in the Scottish Office, he was Labour through and through and yet was much-respected across the political divide."
Greenock MSP Duncan McNeil described Mr Cairns' death as a "huge loss".
Mr McNeil said: "This is such a huge loss. People are just shell-shocked.
"David was a colleague and a friend to so many people and highly respected. He was a big talking point in Inverclyde - people were always asking how he was doing these last few weeks."
Tony Blair, who first appointed Mr Cairns as a minister, said: "David's life was dedicated to public service. He was a committed and conscientious constituency MP, an excellent government minister and a passionate campaigner for social justice, equality and opportunity.
"But more than that, David was, quite simply, a good man, with time for everyone and a wonderful sense of humour, which made him a delight to be around."
Glasgow Labour MP, Tom Harris, said: "David was a gifted and popular MP with a political instinct that was second to none.
"He was absolutely committed to the Labour movement and to Labour's electoral success."
Acute pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, is a treatable condition, but has been known to be life-threatening.
Mr Cairns served in the last UK government, but quit in 2008 after criticising Gordon Brown's leadership.
His death means a by-election will be held in Inverclyde to choose a successor.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Arthur Laurents

Arthur Laurents with Lauren Bacall in 2003  
Laurents, pictured with Lauren Bacall in 2003, was known for speaking his mind

Related Stories

Arthur Laurents, writer of such classic stage musicals as West Side Story and Gypsy, has died in New York aged 93.
The director and screenwriter died at his Manhattan home from complications of pneumonia, his agent said.
Born in Brooklyn, the attorney's son began in radio and wrote military training films during World War II.
His screen credits include the Alfred Hitchcock film Rope, Barbra Streisand romance The Way We Were and 1977 ballet drama The Turning Point.
Laurents won a Tony award in 1968 as author of the book for the musical Hallelujah, Baby!, and another, in 1984, for directing La Cage aux Folles.
He remains best known for writing the books for West Side Story and Gypsy, hit Broadway shows that were later turned into movies.
Arthur Laurents with Richard Rodgers (l) and Stephen Sondheim (r) in 1964 Laurents (centre) worked with lyricist Sondheim (r) on West Side Story
Featuring music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the former retold the Romeo and Juliet story as a drama about rival New York street gangs.
The latter, based on the memoirs of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, premiered in 1959 and was successfully revived four times on Broadway.
Laurents directed three of the revivals himself, most recently in 2008 with Patty LuPone in the leading role.
His other credits as a stage director include I Can Get It For You Wholesale, best remembered as the musical which introduced a 19-year-old Barbra Streisand to Broadway in 1962.
Earlier this year the Oscar-winning actress confirmed she plans to star in and possibly direct a new film version of Gypsy.

Severiano Ballesteros

Severiano Ballesteros was one of the sporting world's greatest and most iconic characters and one of golf's most prodigious talents
Known the world over just as "Seve", the Spaniard became synonymous with flair, passion and magical shot-making from the moment he burst onto the international scene in 1976.
His swashbuckling style, astonishing vision and sublime skill brought a fresh, radical and exciting approach to the game of golf.
There was a zing and panache in his shots that transformed his movements from the merely mechanical to the magical. And his magnetic charisma and unwavering spirit endeared him to fans around the world.
Ballesteros won a special place in the heart of British sports fans as he claimed the Open title three times (1979, 1984, 1988), the Masters twice (1980 and 1983) and led a golden age in European golf as both player and captain in the Ryder Cup.
"Seve was unique," said former Ryder Cup captain Tony Jacklin. "The impossible was an everyday thing for him."
Severiano "Seve" Ballesteros Sota was born in Pedrena, Spain, on 9 April 1957 into a large family, nearly all of whom were associated with golf.
Open winner Seve's uncle, Ramon Sota, was a Spanish professional who finished sixth in the 1965 Masters, while his elder brothers Baldomero, Manuel and Vicente also became pros.
It was Manuel who famously gave him a cut-down three-iron with which the young Seve cultivated his wondrous array of shots, mainly on the local beach or by sneaking on to the Pedrena course at night.
Seve Ballesteros A fresh new talent
The 10-year-old Ballesteros scored 51 for nine holes, including a 10 at the par-three 1st, in his first caddies' tournament at Pedrena and aged 12 he shot 79 for 18 holes to win the event.
He turned professional in March 1974, aged only 16, and burst to prominence two years later when he led the Open at Royal Birkdale for the first three days before finishing second, alongside Jack Nicklaus, behind the winner Johnny Miller.
The same year he went on to claim the European Order of Merit title, the first of three in succession and six overall.
Ballesteros clinched his first Claret Jug in 1979 aged 22 when he became the youngest winner of the Open in the 20th century.
Ryder Cup hero The style and excitement of his play was epitomised by the 16th hole where, unlike most other players who took an iron off the tee for safety, he opted for a driver. In what was to become trademark fashion, he carved the tee shot into a temporary car park before conjuring an astonishing escape to set up a birdie en route to a three-shot victory.
His next appearance in a major was at the Masters in 1980 when he led by 10 shots with nine holes to go and went on to become the first European to win at Augusta.
He won the Masters again in 1983 and clinched a second Open title at St Andrews in 1984. The clenched fist celebration after holing his final birdie putt became the hallmark of the Ballesteros legend.
Seve traded the world number one spot with Australian Greg Norman throughout the late 1980s and he won his final major back at Lytham in 1988 when he shot a final-round 65 to pip Nick Price after a thrilling battle.
Seve Ballesteros His second Open. St Andrews 1984
American Tom Kite, runner-up behind Ballesteros at Augusta in 1983, said of Ballesteros: "When he gets going, it's almost as if Seve is driving a Ferrari and the rest of us are in Chevrolets."
Superb though his individual achievements were, it is perhaps his inspirational involvement in the Ryder Cup for which Ballesteros will be most fondly remembered.
He made his debut in 1979 when players from continental Europe were added to the Great Britain and Ireland side for the first time, but was controversially left out in 1981 and had to be talked back into playing by new captain Tony Jacklin for the 1983 edition.
On his return, Ballesteros became the driving force in Europe's renaissance and sparked the beginning of a new era in Ryder Cup history. Jacklin's side, with Seve at its heart, won for the first time in 28 years in 1985 and clinched a first win on US soil two years later.
Injury problems In all, Ballesteros won an incredible 20 points from 37 matches across eight Ryder Cups and formed a formidable partnership with compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal. The duo accumulated 12 points and are still the most successful pairing in Cup history.
After his illustrious run as a player, Ballesteros was appointed captain for the first Ryder Cup on Spanish soil in 1997 and he led the European side to a glorious victory at Valderrama.
Ballesteros's brilliance and refusal to give up in the matchplay format of golf enabled him to win the popular World Match Play event at Wentworth five times between 1981 and 1991.
The last of his 87 professional tournament victories came in 1995 but he was soon to be plagued by a chronic arthritic back and knee problems.
Seve Ballesteros Always an exciting player
After two years out because of injury, Ballesteros made an all-too-brief return to the European Tour in October 2005.
His swing often still looked as classical and captivating as always but something had changed, the magic was no longer there and the results were often atrocious.
He missed the cut in what was to be his last Open in 2006 and his final appearance at the Masters came in 2007, where rounds of 86 and 80 left him at 22 over par and in last place.
Many believed he would forge a successful career on the senior circuit, but he played only one such Champions Tour event in the US and was joint last with Lee Trevino.
It was Trevino who said: "On a golf course he had everything, I mean everything; touch, power, know-how, courage and charisma."
Finally, in the week of the 2007 Open at Carnoustie, where he had made his debut in the famous event 32 years previously, Ballesteros confirmed what had been expected for some time, that he was retiring from professional golf.
In his later years on Tour, he pioneered some lasting team events that will keep his memory alive, the Seve Trophy between GB & Ireland and Europe and the Royal Trophy, between Europe and Asia.
When he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, Ballesteros said: "Throughout my entire career I have been one of the best at overcoming obstacles on the golf course. And now I want to be the best, facing the most difficult game of my life."

Friday, 6 May 2011

Jackie Cooper

Jackie Cooper, who died on May 3 aged 88, was nominated for an Oscar at the age of nine and became one of Hollywood's brightest child stars, his fame rivalling that of Shirley Temple and Mickey Rooney in the 1930s.

Jackie Cooper

Jackie Cooper as a child actor Photo: EVERETT COLLECTION/ REX FEATURES
He played young Jim Hawkins in the 1934 version of Treasure Island, and went on to a successful film and television career behind the camera, winning an Emmy award in 1974 for directing an episode of M*A*S*H.
Blond and blue-eyed, Jackie became a screen favourite in 15 of Hal Roach's Our Gang screen shorts, and by the time he was 12 Hollywood was hailing him the most gifted child star in film history. But there were drawbacks: MGM banned him from roller-skating, riding his bike or even crossing the street unescorted, in case he hurt himself.
The film business may have robbed him of a normal childhood and a formal education (he was taught by tutors during breaks in filming) but it did school him in the ways of the world. When he was 13 he dated the teenage Judy Garland, and years later he revealed that at 17 he had enjoyed a six-month affair with the much older Joan Crawford.
Jackie Cooper was born John Cooperman Jr on September 15 1922 into a film family. His father was a studio production manager and his mother a stage pianist. The director Norman Taurog was his mother's brother.
In 1931 Taurog secured his nephew a contract with MGM, casting him as the lead in Skippy, based on a popular comic strip. The film earned the nine-year-old Jackie enthusiastic reviews, and an Oscar nomination as the youngest-ever actor in a lead role.
He next played Dink, the son of a washed-up boxer (Wallace Beery) in The Champ (1931). Dubbed "America's Boy" by audiences and directors alike, he appeared alongside Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer and became one of MGM's most bankable stars. He played opposite Lois Wilson in Divorce in the Family (1931), and Mickey Rooney in Broadway to Hollywood (1933).
By 1939 he was starring in Streets of New York and What a Life! He supported an all-star cast in Ziegfeld Girl (1941), and played Danny Cheston opposite Gale Storm and Patricia Morrison in Where Are Your Children? (1943).
Later that year Cooper left Hollywood to serve with the US Navy in the Second World War. He was posted to the South Pacific, entertaining troops by playing drums in a band. But by the time he returned he had lost his ranking as a juvenile lead. Not as handsome as some of his contemporaries, he was judged too short (at 5ft 6in) to be a serious leading man.
Cooper languished in B-films, including Time to Kill (1945), and Kilroy on Deck (1948) with Jackie Coogan, who had played the orphan in Chaplin's The Kid (1921).
In 1948 he moved to New York to reinvent himself as a stage actor. Two years later he starred in the London production of the Broadway hit Mr Roberts with his second wife, Hildy Parks.
With his film career in decline Cooper seized the opportunities presented by the booming medium of television, working behind the camera as a producer and director.
He directed on series such as The Rockford Files and Quincy MD, as well as M*A*S*H. In 1978 Cooper made a successful return to the big screen playing opposite Christopher Reeve as Superman. He reprised his role as Perry White, the irascible editor of the Daily Planet, in three follow-up Superman films in the 1980s.
He also surfaced in popular television shows, among them St Elsewhere, and Murder, She Wrote. His farewell appearance was with Lloyd Bridges in the short-lived Capital News (1990), and he retired as a director in 1995.
The title of Cooper's candid autobiography, Please Don't Shoot My Dog (1982), derived from Norman Taurog's threat to dispatch young Jackie's pet if he could not cry on cue while filming a scene in Skippy. "Hollywood was pretty horrid from the outset," Cooper recalled. "My uncle threatened to kill my dog, for Christ's sake! Hollywood was – and, I'm pretty sure, still is – no place for the faint-hearted."
He was thrice married, first to the actress June Horne, with whom he had a son, and secondly to the actress and writer Hildy Parks. His third wife, Barbara Kraus, with whom he had a son and two daughters, died in 2009.
Jackie Cooper is survived by his two sons. Both daughters predeceased him

Johnny Pearson

Johnny Pearson, who died on March 20 aged 85, was the musical director on the BBC’s flagship chart music show Top Of The Pops in its 1970s heyday and composed several memorable television theme tunes, including those for All Creatures Great And Small and News At Ten.

Johnny Pearson
Johnny Pearson 

An accomplished and classically-trained musician, Pearson first appeared on Top Of The Pops in early 1965 as the pianist with the group Sounds Orchestral, whose first single Cast Your Fate To The Wind had reached No 5 in the charts. He joined the staff of the show in 1967, the year it moved from Manchester to London and the scantily-clad dancers Pan’s People were introduced.
In 1966 the all-powerful Musicians’ Union had banned pop stars from miming to their records. This meant that artists either had to pre-record their numbers especially or perform live with the Top Of The Pops Orchestra, an assembly of jobbing musicians more accustomed to easy-listening arrangements for crooners like Matt Monro and Des O’Connor.
As disorganised popstars often arrived at the studio on the day with no band parts at all, Pearson and the orchestra frequently had to improvise backing tracks. Inevitably the session men, almost all middle-aged, often struggled with the enormous range of rock and pop tunes with which they were presented. A gentle ballad by Val Doonican was one thing; a funky disco track by Tina Charles quite another.
Even a middle-of-the-road artist like Cliff Richard had his doubts about the band’s inner grooviness, and ability to “get it on”. “They had no feel for the tracks,” he complained. “You could tell they didn’t even like rock and roll.”
Another problem for Pearson was that, on the conductor’s rostrum, he had to contend with the extensive and rigidly-enforced provisions of the union’s rule book. In rehearsal, if a tea break was due, the orchestra would break off in the middle of a song and walk out, leaving American funk and soul superstars scratching their heads.
With so many acts featuring on Top Of The Pops each week, rehearsal time was sorely limited. Pearson would have to explain to stars like Elton John that they had just 20 minutes to run through their number with the orchestra, which was corralled in a corner of the studio and hardly ever seen on camera.
When Simon and Garfunkel arrived to sing their plangent hit Bridge Over Troubled Water and saw the thinly-populated string section, they refused to perform and returned to their hotel.
Pearson had more success with backing tracks for artists like Bing Crosby, Neil Sedaka, John Denver and a young Michael Jackson, who sang his first solo hit Ben on the programme in 1972.
His 16-year association with Top Of The Pops behind him, Pearson concentrated on musical composition, and produced a sizeable body of work in various styles. As well as easy listening and production music, he also wrote more demanding scores, such as the Gemini suite for piano and orchestra, and the Arabesque suite which included his familiar News At Ten theme.
John Valmore Pearson was born on June 18 1925 at Plaistow, east London, the only child of a steel erector. Having started playing the piano aged seven, he won a scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and studied under the pianist Solomon. John gave solo recitals, performing works by Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven and Bach, but when war broke out Lamda closed, and for the next six years he worked as an apprentice toolmaker and engineer.
After National Service with the Royal Artillery Band, Pearson became a freelance musician, playing in the Malcolm Mitchell jazz trio; working as a pianist on The Goon Show and other radio programmes in the 1950s; and as a session musician on several pop hits of the early 1960s. In 1964 he made a memorable arrangement of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David number, Anyone Who Had A Heart, which became a No 1 British hit for Cilla Black. His delicate scoring for strings and French horn proved a perfect contrast to Cilla Black’s dramatic rendition. He also arranged her follow-up single, You’re My World (1964).
In the mid-1960s Pearson also formed the successful easy-listening group, Sounds Orchestral. His distinctive and delicate piano touch on the group’s version of a 1962 instrumental number, Cast Your Fate To The Wind, gave it an unusually airy and jazzy feel. The record remained in the British charts for four months in 1965 and also charted in the United States; it sold more than a million copies worldwide and earned a gold disc.
The group’s spin-off album of the same name (controversially featuring a naked woman in silhouette on the cover) was the first of 17 easy-listening albums released over the following decade. By the time Sounds Orchestral wound up in 1975, Pearson had carved out a successful solo career as a pianist and arranger. Shortly after contributing to the 900th edition of Top Of The Pops, in August 1981, he left the programme.
Over the years, much of his output was library or production music, available for radio play and as incidental music in dramas. One of Pearson’s most popular compositions in this vein, the languid Sleepy Shores, recorded by his own orchestra, was chosen as the theme to the BBC Television drama series Owen MD, starring Nigel Stock. It reached No 8 in the pop charts in 1972.
Another of his library pieces, Piano Parchment, which he had recorded with his orchestra 10 years earlier, became the perky signature tune of the popular series about a Yorkshire vet’s practice, All Creatures Great And Small, in 1978.
But Pearson’s best-known and most enduring television theme was the menacing opening music for ITN’s News At Ten, which was first heard when the programme launched in 1967. Featuring a fortissimo brass figure over percussive strings, it lasts less than 15 seconds before yielding to the portentous “bongs” of Big Ben.
Pearson’s theme was nearly dropped during pre-launch rehearsals because women complained it was too shrill and ear-piercing. Another composer was hurriedly commissioned to write a replacement, but when the editor-in-chief heard Pearson’s theme in conjunction with the Big Ben “bongs” he recognised a winning combination and ordered it to stand. News At Ten has used it, in one form or another, ever since.
Pearson also wrote themes for several other long-running television series, including the 1980s quiz 3-2-1 and the BBC sports show Superstars. His film scores include The Jokers (1967) and Let’s Get Laid (1977).
Johnny Pearson married, in 1963, Alex Thorpe, who survives him.