10 July, 2008

Gregory Peck


Gregory Peck was an Academy Award-winning and four-time Golden Globe Award-winning American film actor. He was one of 20th Century Fox's most popular film stars, from the 1940s to the 1960s, and played important roles well into the 1990s. One of his most notable performances was as Atticus Finch in the 1962 film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won his Academy Award. President Lyndon Johnson honored Peck with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 for his lifetime humanitarian efforts.

He made his Broadway debut as the lead in Emlyn Williams' The Morning Star in 1942. His second Broadway performance that year was in The Willow and I with Edward Pawley. Peck's acting abilities were in high demand during World War II, since he was exempt from military service owing to a back injury suffered while receiving dance and movement lessons from Martha Graham as part of his acting training. Twentieth Century Fox claimed he had injured his back while rowing at university, but in Peck's words, "In Hollywood, they didn't think a dance class was macho enough, I guess. I've been trying to straighten out that story for years."

In 1949, Peck founded The La Jolla Playhouse, at his birthplace, along with his friends Jose Ferrer and Dorothy McGuire. This local community theater and landmark still thrives today. It has attracted Hollywood film stars on hiatus both as performers and enthusiastic supporters since its inception.

Peck's first film, Days of Glory, was released in 1944. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor five times, four of which came in his first five years of film acting: for The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and Twelve O'Clock High (1949).

The Keys of the Kingdom emphasized his stately presence. As the farmer Penny Barker in The Yearling his good-humored warmth and affection toward the characters playing his son and wife confounded critics who had been insisting he was a lifeless performer. Duel in the Sun (1946) showed his range as an actor in his first "against type" role as a cruel, libidinous gunslinger. Gentleman's Agreement established his power in the "social conscience" genre in a film that took on the deep-seated but subtle anti-Semitism of mid-century corporate America. Twelve O'Clock High was the first of many successful war films in which Peck embodied the brave, effective, yet human fighting man.

Among his other popular films were "The Gunfighter" 1950, Moby Dick (1956), On the Beach (1959), which brought to life the terrors of global nuclear war, The Guns of Navarone (1961), and Roman Holiday (1953), with Audrey Hepburn in her Oscar-winning role. Peck and Hepburn were close friends until her death; Peck even introduced her to her first husband, Mel Ferrer. Peck once again teamed up with director William Wyler in the epic Western "The Big Country" (1958), which he co-produced.

Peck won the Academy award with his fifth nomination, playing Atticus Finch, a Depression-era lawyer and widowed father, in a film adaptation of the Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Released in 1962 during the height of the US civil rights movement in the South, this movie and his role were Peck's favorites.

He served as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1967, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Film Institute from 1967 to 1969, Chairman of the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund in 1971, and National Chairman of the American Cancer Society in 1966. He was a member of the National Council on the Arts from 1964 to 1966.

A physically powerful man, he was known to do a majority of his own fight scenes, rarely using body or stunt doubles. In fact, Robert Mitchum, his on-screen opponent in Cape Fear, often said that Peck once accidentally punched him for real during their final fight scene in the movie.

Peck's rare attempts at unsympathetic roles usually failed. He played the renegade son in the Western Duel in the Sun and the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele in The Boys from Brazil. Critics could be unkind. Pauline Kael of the New Yorker once labeled Peck "competent but always a little boring." He famously did not get along with Marlon Brando, who described him as "a wooden actor and a pompous individual". Off-screen as well as on Peck conveyed a quiet dignity, He had one amicable divorce, and scandal never touched him.

In the 1980s, Peck moved to television, where he starred in the mini-series The Blue and the Gray, playing Abraham Lincoln. He also starred with Barbara Bouchet in the Television film The Scarlet and The Black, about a real-life Roman Catholic priest in the Vatican who smuggled Jews and other refugees away from the Nazis during World War II.

Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Martin Balsam all had roles in the 1991 remake of Cape Fear directed by Martin Scorsese. All three were in the original 1962 version. In the remake, Peck plays Max Cady's lawyer.

Peck retired from active film-making in 1991. Like Cary Grant before him, Peck spent the last few years of his life touring the world doing speaking engagements in which he would show clips from his movies, reminisce, and answer questions from the audience. He came out of retirement to appear in the 1998 remake of one of his most famous films, Moby Dick, portraying Father Mapple, with Patrick Stewart as Captain Ahab, the role Peck played in the earlier film.

On June 12, 2003, Peck died in his sleep from cardiorespiratory arrest, and bronchial pneumonia, age 87, at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California. His wife of 48 years was at his side.


Albert King




Albert King was an American blues guitarist and singer.

One of the "Three Kings of the Blues Guitar", he stood at least 6' 4", weighed in at least 260 lbs and was known as "The Velvet Bulldozer". He was born Albert Nelson on a cotton plantation in Indianola, Mississippi. During his childhood he would sing at a family gospel group at a church. He began his professional work as a musician with a group called In The Groove Boys, in Osceola, Arkansas. He also briefly played drums for Jimmy Reed's band and on several early Reed recordings. Influenced by Blues musician’s Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lonnie Johnson, but also interestingly Hawaiian music, the electric guitar became his signature instrument, his preference being the Gibson Flying V, which he named "Lucy".

King was a left-handed "upside-down/backwards" guitarist. He was left-handed, but usually played right-handed guitars flipped over upside-down so the low E string was on the bottom. In later years he played a custom-made guitar that was basically left-handed, but had the strings reversed (as he was used to playing). He also used very unorthodox tunings (i.e., tuning as low as C to allow him to make sweeping string bends). A "less is more" type blues player, he was known for his expressive "bending" of notes, a technique characteristic of blues guitarists.

His first minor hit came in 1958 with "I'm A Lonely Man" written by Bobbin Records A&R man and fellow guitar hero Little Milton, responsible for King's signing with the label. However, it was not until his 1961 release "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong" that he had a major hit, reaching number fourteen on the R&B charts. In 1966 he signed with the famous Stax record label. Produced by powerhouse drummer Al Jackson, Jr., King with Booker T. & the MGs recorded dozens of hugely influential sides, such as "Crosscut Saw" and "As the Years Go Passing By", and in 1967 Stax released the legendary album, Born Under A Bad Sign. The title track of that album (written by Booker T. Jones and William Bell) became King's most well known song and has been covered by many artists (from Cream to Homer Simpson)

Another landmark album followed in Live Wire/Blues Power from one of many seminal dates King played at promoter Bill Graham's Fillmore venues.

In the 1970s, King was teamed with members of The Bar-Kays and The Movement (Isaac Hayes's backing group), including bassist James Alexander and drummer Willie Hall adding strong Funk elements to his music. Adding strings and multiple rhythm guitarists, producers Allen Jones and Henry Bush created a wall of sound that contrasted the sparse, punchy records King made with Booker T. & the MGs. Among these was another signature tune for King with "I'll Play the Blues For You" in 1972.

King died on December 21, 1992 from a heart attack in Memphis, Tennessee.

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown


Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown was a Louisiana and Texan American blues musician.

He was an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, who played an array of musical instruments such as guitar, fiddle, mandolin, viola as well as harmonica and drums. He won a Grammy Award for Traditional Blues in 1983 for his album, Alright Again!

Born in Vinton, Louisiana, Brown was raised in Orange, Texas. His professional musical career began in 1945, playing drums in San Antonio, Texas. Tagged with the "Gatemouth" handle by a high school instructor who accused Brown of having a "voice like a gate," Brown has used it to his advantage throughout his illustrious career. He took note, and his fame took off, during his impromptu fill-in in a 1947 concert by T-Bone Walker in Don Robey's Bronze Peacock Houston nightclub. When Walker became ill, Brown took up his guitar and played "Gatemouth Boogie," to the delight of the audience.

In the 1960s he moved to Nashville, Tennessee to participate in a syndicated R&B television show, and while he was there recorded several country singles. He struck up a friendship with Roy Clark and made several appearances on the television show Hee Haw. By the late 1960s he had decided to leave the music industry and he moved to New Mexico and became a deputy sheriff.

However, in the early 1970s several countries in Europe had developed an appreciation for American roots music, especially blues, and Brown was a popular and well-respected artist there. He toured Europe twelve times, beginning in 1971 and continuing throughout the 1970s. He also became an official ambassador for American music, and participated in several tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department, including an extensive tour of Eastern Africa. In 1974, he recorded as a sideman with the New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair on his album, "Rock 'N' Roll Gumbo" (originally a Blue Star Records release). He moved to New Orleans in the late 1970s.

In the 1980s, a series of releases on Rounder Records and Alligator Records revitalized his U.S. career, and he toured extensively and internationally, usually playing between 250 and 300 shows a year. He won a Grammy in 1983 for the album Alright Again! , and was nominated for five more. He was also awarded eight W. C. Handy Awards and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Heroes Award. In 1997 he was honored by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and in 1999 was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

In his last few years, he maintained a full touring schedule, including Australia, New Zealand, and countries with political conflicts in Central America, Africa, and the former Soviet Union. "People can't come to me, so I go to them," he explained.

In September 2004, Brown was diagnosed with lung cancer. Already suffering from emphysema and heart disease, he and his doctors decided to forgo treatment. His home in Slidell, Louisiana was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and he was evacuated to his childhood home town of Orange, Texas, where he died on September 10 at his brother's home, at the age of 81. was a Louisiana and Texan American blues musician.

He was an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, who played an array of musical instruments such as guitar, fiddle, mandolin, viola as well as harmonica and drums. He won a Grammy Award for Traditional Blues in 1983 for his album, Alright Again!

Born in Vinton, Louisiana, Brown was raised in Orange, Texas. His professional musical career began in 1945, playing drums in San Antonio, Texas. Tagged with the "Gatemouth" handle by a high school instructor who accused Brown of having a "voice like a gate," Brown has used it to his advantage throughout his illustrious career. He took note, and his fame took off, during his impromptu fill-in in a 1947 concert by T-Bone Walker in Don Robey's Bronze Peacock Houston nightclub. When Walker became ill, Brown took up his guitar and played "Gatemouth Boogie," to the delight of the audience.

In the 1960s he moved to Nashville, Tennessee to participate in a syndicated R&B television show, and while he was there recorded several country singles. He struck up a friendship with Roy Clark and made several appearances on the television show Hee Haw. By the late 1960s he had decided to leave the music industry and he moved to New Mexico and became a deputy sheriff.

However, in the early 1970s several countries in Europe had developed an appreciation for American roots music, especially blues, and Brown was a popular and well-respected artist there. He toured Europe twelve times, beginning in 1971 and continuing throughout the 1970s. He also became an official ambassador for American music, and participated in several tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department, including an extensive tour of Eastern Africa. In 1974, he recorded as a sideman with the New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair on his album, "Rock 'N' Roll Gumbo" (originally a Blue Star Records release). He moved to New Orleans in the late 1970s.

In the 1980s, a series of releases on Rounder Records and Alligator Records revitalized his U.S. career, and he toured extensively and internationally, usually playing between 250 and 300 shows a year. He won a Grammy in 1983 for the album Alright Again! , and was nominated for five more. He was also awarded eight W. C. Handy Awards and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Heroes Award. In 1997 he was honored by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and in 1999 was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

In his last few years, he maintained a full touring schedule, including Australia, New Zealand, and countries with political conflicts in Central America, Africa, and the former Soviet Union. "People can't come to me, so I go to them," he explained.

In September 2004, Brown was diagnosed with lung cancer. Already suffering from emphysema and heart disease, he and his doctors decided to forgo treatment. His home in Slidell, Louisiana was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and he was evacuated to his childhood home town of Orange, Texas, where he died on September 10 at his brother's home, at the age of 81.

Edward Abbey


Edward Paul Abbey was an American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues and criticism of public land policies. His best-known works include the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, which has been cited as an inspiration by radical environmental groups, and the non-fiction work Desert Solitaire. Writer Larry McMurtry referred to Abbey as the "Thoreau of the American West".

Abbey was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and grew up in nearby Home, Pennsylvania, where there is a Pennsylvania state historical marker in his honor. In the summer of 1944 he headed west, and fell in love with the desert country of the Four Corners region. He wrote, "For the first time, I felt I was getting close to the West of my deepest imaginings, the place where the tangible and the mythical became the same." He received a Master's Degree in philosophy from the University of New Mexico and also studied at the University of Edinburgh. In the late 1950s Abbey worked as a seasonal ranger for the United States Park Service at Arches National Monument (now a national park), near the town of Moab, Utah, which was not then known for extreme sports but for its desolation and uranium mines. It was there that he penned the journals that would become one of his most famous works, 1968's Desert Solitaire, which Abbey described "...not [as] a travel guide, but an elegy."

Desert Solitaire is regarded as one of the finest nature narratives in American literature, and has been compared to Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac and Thoreau's Walden. In it, Abbey vividly describes the physical landscapes of Southern Utah and delights in his isolation as a backcountry park ranger, recounting adventures in the nearby canyon country and mountains. He also attacks what he terms the "industrial tourism" and resulting development in the national parks ("national parking lots"), rails against the Glen Canyon Dam, and comments on various other subjects.

Abbey died in 1989 at the age of 62 at his home near Oracle, Arizona. He is survived by two daughters, Susie and Becky; and three sons, Joshua, Aaron and Benjamin.

Abbey's abrasiveness, opposition to anthropocentrism (sometimes characterized as misanthropy), and outspoken writings made him the object of much controversy. Conventional environmentalists from mainstream groups disliked his more radical "Keep America Beautiful...Burn a Billboard" style. Based on his writings and statements--and apparently in a few cases, actions--many believe that Abbey did advocate ecotage or sabotage in behalf of ecology. The controversy intensified with the publication of Abbey's most famous work of fiction, The Monkey Wrench Gang. The novel centers on a small group of eco-warriors who travel the American West attempting to put the brakes on uncontrolled human expansion by committing acts of sabotage against industrial development projects. Abbey claimed the novel was written merely to "entertain and amuse," and was intended as symbolic satire. Others saw it as a how-to guide to non-violent ecotage, as the main characters attack things, such as road-building equipment, and not people. The novel inspired environmentalists frustrated with mainstream environmentalist groups and what they saw as unacceptable compromises. Earth First! was formed as a result in 1980, advocating eco-sabotage or "monkeywrenching." Although Abbey never officially joined the group, he became associated with many of its members, and occasionally wrote for the organization.

Sometimes called the "desert anarchist," Abbey was known to anger people of all political stripes, including environmentalists. In his essays the narrator describes throwing beer cans out of his car, claiming the highway had already littered the landscape. Abbey even had an FBI file opened on him in 1947, after he posted a letter while in college urging people to rid themselves of their draft cards. He differed from the stereotype of environmentalist as politically-correct leftist by disclaiming the counterculture and the "trendy campus people", saying he didn't want them as his primary fans, and by supporting some conservative causes such as immigration reduction and the National Rifle Association. He devoted one chapter in his book Hayduke Lives to poking fun at left-green leader Murray Bookchin. However, he reserves his harshest criticism for the military-industrial complex, "welfare ranchers," energy companies, land developers and "Chambers of Commerce," all of which he believed were destroying the West's great landscapes. Abbey refused to be pigeon-holed by the left or the right; above all he was a staunch advocate for wilderness preservation and ecological protection. Abbey thrived on controversy; his popularity has proven to span generations.

Edward Abbey died on March 14, 1989 due to complications from surgery. Abbey died after four days of esophageal hemorrhaging, due to esophageal varices, a recurrent problem with one group of veins. Showing his sense of humor, he left a message for anyone who asked about his final words: "No comment."

Juan Trippe


Juan Terry Trippe was a U.S. airline entrepreneur and pioneer, and the founder of Pan American World Airways. Born in Sea Bright, New Jersey, Trippe graduated from The Hill School in 1917, and then Yale in 1921. He began working on Wall Street, but soon became bored. After receiving an inheritance he started working with New York Airways, an air-taxi service for the rich and powerful.

At Yale, Trippe was a member of St. Anthony Hall. Along with some wealthy friends from Yale, Trippe invested in an airline named Colonial Air Transport. Interested in operating to the Caribbean, Trippe created the Aviation Company of the Americas. Based in Florida, the company would evolve into the fledgling Pan Am, then known as Pan American Airways. Pan Am's first flight took off on October 28, 1927, from Key West to Havana. Later, Trippe bought the China National Aviation Corporation to provide domestic air service in the Republic of China, and became a partner in Panagra. In the 1930s Pan Am became the first airline to cross the Pacific with the famous Clipper flying boats.

Trippe served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the airline for all but about two years between the founding of the company and the Second World War. "Sonny" Whitney, a stockholder, managed to seize this position. He later regretted his action and allowed Trippe to retake it. Trippe failed to pardon Whitney for a long time. At one point, he even agreed to meet Whitney for lunch for reconciliation but changed his mind and returned shortly after departing from his office in the Chrysler Building.

Trippe's airline continued to expand worldwide throughout World War II. Pan Am was one of the few airlines that was largely unaffected by the war.

Trippe is responsible for several innovations in the airline world. A firm believer in the idea of air travel for all, Trippe is credited as the father of the tourist class in the airline industry. Trippe quickly recognized the opportunities presented by jet aircraft and ordered several Boeing 707 and McDonnell Douglas DC-8 airplanes. Pan Am's first jet flight was operated in October, 1958 by a 707 out of Idle Wild International Airport (now JFK) to Paris. The new jets allowed Pan Am to introduce lower fares and fly more passengers.

In 1965, Trippe asked his friend Bill Allen at Boeing to produce an airplane much larger than the 707. The result was the 747, and Pan Am was the first customer.

Originally, Trippe believed the 747 would ultimately be destined to haul cargo only and would be replaced by faster, supersonic aircraft which were then being developed. The supersonic airliners failed to materialize with the exception of the Concorde and Tupolev Tu-144 and the 747 became the iconic image of international travel.

Trippe gave up presidency of the airline in 1968. He continued to attend meetings of the Board of Directors and maintained an office in the company's Park Avenue office building. His first replacement, Harold Gray, retired soon after becoming Chairman due to cancer. Najeeb Halaby, the next Chairman, was seen as overly aggressive and impulsive by many of the directors and was subsequently fired. General William Seawell was the next Chairman in line and Trippe died during his tenure in Los Angeles in 1981 and is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

In 1985, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by United States President Ronald Reagan.

Frank Sinatra, The Epitome of Cool

Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.

Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became a solo artist with great success in the early to mid-1940s, being the idol of the "bobby soxers". His professional career had stalled by the 1950s, but it was reborn in 1954 after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

He signed with Capitol Records and released several critically lauded albums (such as In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin' Lovers, Come Fly with Me, Only the Lonely and Nice 'n' Easy). Sinatra left Capitol to found his own record label, Reprise Records (finding success with albums such as Ring-A-Ding-Ding, Sinatra at the Sands and Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim), toured internationally, and fraternized with the Rat Pack and President John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s. Sinatra turned 50 in 1965, recorded the retrospective September of My Years, starred in the Emmy-winning television special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music, and scored hits with "Strangers in the Night" and "My Way".

Sinatra attempted to weather the changing tastes in popular music, but with dwindling album sales and after appearing in several poorly received films, he retired in 1971. Coming out of retirement in 1973, he recorded several albums, scoring a hit with "New York, New York" in 1980, and toured both within the United States and internationally until a few years before his death in 1998.

Sinatra also forged a career as a dramatic actor, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in From Here to Eternity, and he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for The Man with the Golden Arm. His also starred in such musicals as High Society, Pal Joey, Guys and Dolls and On the Town. Sinatra was honored with the Kennedy Center Honors in 1983 and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1985 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. Sinatra was also the recipient of eleven Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Trustees Award, Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Frank Sinatra died at 10:50 pm on May 14, 1998 at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his wife Barbara and daughter Nancy by his side. He was 82 years old.

General George S. Patton


George Smith Patton, Jr. was a leading U.S. Army general in World War II in campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, France, and Germany, 1943–1945. In World War I he was a senior commander of the new tank corps and saw action in France. After the war he was an advocate of armored warfare but was reassigned to the cavalry. In World War II he commanded both corps and armies in North Africa, Sicily, and the European Theater of Operations.

On December 9, 1945, in Germany a day before he was due to return to the United States, Patton was severely injured in a road accident. George Patton died of an embolism on December 21, 1945 at the military hospital in Heidelberg, Germany.



Jacques Derrida



Jacques Derrida was an Algerian-born French philosopher, known as the founder of deconstruction. His voluminous work has had a profound impact upon literary theory and continental philosophy. His best known work is Of Grammatology.

From 1960 to 1964, Derrida taught philosophy at the Sorbonne and from 1964 to 1984 at the École Normale Superieure. His wife Marguerite gave birth to their first child, Pierre, in 1963. Beginning with his 1966 lecture at Johns Hopkins University, "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences", his work assumed international prominence. A second son, Jean, was born in 1967. In the same year, Derrida published his first three books—Writing and Difference, Speech and Phenomena, and Of Grammatology—which would make his name.

He completed his Thèse d'État in 1980; the work was subsequently published in English translation as "The Time of a Thesis: Punctuations." In 1983 Derrida collaborated with Ken McMullen on the film Ghost Dance. Derrida appears in the film as himself and also contributed to the script.

Derrida traveled widely and held a series of visiting and permanent positions. Derrida was director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. With François Châtelet and others he in 1983 co-founded the Collège international de philosophie, an institution intended to provide a location for philosophical research which could not be carried out elsewhere in the academy. He was elected as its first president.

In 1986 Derrida became Professor of the Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. UCI and the Derrida family are currently involved in a legal dispute regarding exactly what materials constitute his archive, part of which was informally bequeathed to the university. He was a regular visiting professor at several other major American universities, including Johns Hopkins University, Yale University, New York University, and The New School for Social Research.

Derrida was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and received the 2001 Adorno-Preis from the University of Frankfurt. He was awarded honorary doctorates by Cambridge University, Columbia University, and The New School for Social Research, the University of Essex, University of Leuven, and Williams College.

In 2002, Derrida appeared in a documentary about himself and his work, entitled Derrida.

In 2003, Derrida was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which reduced his speaking and traveling engagements. He died in a Parisian hospital on the evening of October 8, 2004.

Hurbert Hoover


Herbert Clark Hoover the thirty-first President of the United States (1929–1933), was a mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted government intervention under the rubric "economic modernization". In the presidential election of 1928 Hoover easily won the Republican nomination. The nation was prosperous and optimistic, leading to a landslide for Hoover over the Democrat Al Smith, whom many voters distrusted on account of his Roman Catholicism. Hoover deeply believed in the Efficiency Movement, arguing that a technical solution existed for every social and economic problem. That position was challenged by the Great Depression, which began in 1929, the first year of his presidency. He tried to combat the Depression with volunteer efforts and government action, none of which produced economic recovery during his term. The consensus among historians is that Hoover's defeat in the 1932 election was caused primarily by failure to end the downward spiral into deep Depression, compounded by popular opposition to prohibition. Other electoral liabilities were Hoover's lack of charisma in relating to voters, and his poor skills in working with politicians.

Hoover died at the age of 90 in New York City at 11:35 a.m. on October 20, 1964, 31 years and seven months after leaving office. He had outlived his wife, the former Lou Henry, by 20 years, who died in 1944, and was the last living member of both the Harding and Coolidge administrations. He had the longest retirement of any President. Hoover and his wife are buried at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa.

Sid James

Sid James was a South African actor who made his career in the British film and television industry. James, who was often credited as Sidney James, is best remembered for his roles in the Carry On films, Bless This House and Hancock's Half Hour.

James made his first appearances in Night Beat and Black Memory (1947), both crime dramas. In 1949 he played the alcoholic hero's barman in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Small Back Room.

His first major comedy role was in The Lavender Hill Mob (1951): with Alfie Bass he made up the bullion robbery gang headed by Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway. In the same year he also appeared in Lady Godiva Rides Again and The Galloping Major; in 1956 he had a non-comic supporting role as a journalist in the science-fiction film Quatermass 2. He also had a supporting part as a TV advertisement producer in Charlie Chaplin's A King in New York (1957).

Meanwhile, in 1954, he began working with Tony Hancock in BBC radio's Hancock's Half Hour playing a character with his own name, who was a petty criminal who would usually manage to con Hancock. When this was turned into a television series his part was greatly increased to the extent that some viewers considered it to be a double act. Sid James was soon getting as many laughs as his partner. In the final series, the show was renamed simply Hancock and James was not included in the cast. The show was one of the most popular comedy series in Britain on both television and radio.

James became a leading member of the Carry On team, originally to replace Ted Ray who had appeared in Carry On Teacher in 1959. It was intended that Ray would become a recurring Carry On star, but he had been dropped after just one film due to a contractual. James ultimately made 19 Carry On films, making him one of the most regular-appearing of the cast.

The characters he portrayed in the films were usually very similar to the wise-cracking, sly, lecherous cockney he was famed for playing on television, and often had the name Sid or Sidney.

Sid James was so identified with the similar characters that he played that they were often also called "Sid" or "Sidney". Apart from Sidney Fiddler, Sid Carter, Sid Plummer, Sidney Bliss, Sidney Boggle and Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond in the Carry On films, he played Sid Abbot in Bless This House on television and its spin-off film, as well as Sids Jones, Turner, Marks, Stone, and Gibson in addition to four characters called just 'Sid'. His Sidney Balmoral James from Hancock's Half Hour also appeared in his own Citizen James series. His trademark "dirty laugh" was employed frequently.

He suffered a heart attack on 26 April 1976, the opening night of The Mating Season at the Sunderland Empire Theatre and died on stage he was 62.

Fred Trueman

Frederick Sewards Trueman was a Yorkshire and England cricketer, regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers in history. Known as Fiery Fred, he was first man to take 300 Test wickets, and later became a popular and outspoken radio summariser.

In the 1970s Trueman presented the Yorkshire Television ITV programme Indoor League, which was broadcast at 5.15pm on a Thursday evening, after the children's programmes. This show had a notably Northern, working class focus, and featured pub games such as darts (broadcast for the first time on television), bar billiards, shove ha'penny, skittles and arm-wrestling. Trueman anchored the programme with a pint of bitter and his pipe to hand, and signed off each week with his catchphrase, "al sithi".

Diagnosed with small cell carcinoma in May 2006, he succumbed to the disease on 1 July 2006, and died at Skipton in North Yorkshire.

Vincent Schiavelli




Vincent Andrew Schiavelli was an American character actor noted for his work in film, stage, and television. He was often described as "the man with the sad eyes".

Schiavelli's first movie role occurred in Miloš Forman's 1971 production Taking Off, in which he played a counselor who taught parents of runaway teens to smoke marijuana in order to better understand their children's experiences. Schiavelli's aptitude and distinctive angular appearance soon provided him with a steady stream of supporting roles, often in Milos Forman films, namely One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Valmont, and the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon.

Schiavelli also played Mr. Vargas the biology teacher in the 1982 hit comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a role he reprised in the 1986 television spin-off, Fast Times. He was cast in a similar role in the cult hit Better Off Dead in which he played Mr. Kerber, a strangely popular geometry teacher.

In 1987, he starred alongside Tim Conway in the short film comedy, Dorf on Golf, and Dorf and the First Games of Mount Olympus in 1988. Schiavelli's role as a subway spirit in the 1990 drama Ghost won him much critical acclaim. In 1992, he played in Tim Burton's Batman Returns as the "Organ Grinder", one of the Penguin's henchmen. He appeared as another villain in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), as a silent monk in The Frisco Kid (1979), and as John O'Connor, one of the evil Red Lectroids in the 1984 cult classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. In 1997, he was named one of America's best character actors by Vanity Fair magazine.

His first television role came in 1972 as Peter Panama in The Corner Bar, the first sustained portrayal of a gay character on American television. His other television credits include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Taxi as the priest who marries Latka and Simka. He also appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Arsenal of Freedom" as a holographic salesman. Schiavelli also wrote a number of cookbooks and food articles for various magazines and newspapers. He received a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award in 2001 and was nominated on several other occasions.

On December 26, 2005, Schiavelli succumbed to lung cancer, aged 57.

Eric Morecambe


John Eric Bartholomew better known by his stage name, Eric Morecambe was a six-time BAFTA Award-winning English comedian who together with Ernie Wise formed the double act Morecambe and Wise, a partnership which lasted until Morecambe's death of a heart attack in 1984. Eric took his stage name from his home town, the seaside resort of Morecambe in Lancashire, England.

He is best remembered for the television series the Morecambe & Wise Show, which for its Christmas episodes gained viewing figures of up to 28,385,000 viewers in the United Kingdom.

Eric Morecambe died in Cheltenham General Hospital at 4am on May 28,1984 at the age of 58 .

Stephen Fry

Stephen John Fry is an English humorist, writer, actor, novelist, filmmaker and television presenter. As one half of the Fry and Laurie double act with his comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, he co-wrote and co-starred in A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. He is also famous for his roles in Blackadder and Wilde, and as the host of QI. In addition to writing for stage, screen, television and radio, he has contributed columns and articles for numerous newspapers and magazines, and has written four successful novels and an autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot.



Fred Thompson

Fred Dalton Thompson is an American politician, actor, attorney and lobbyist. He represented Tennessee as a Republican in the U.S. Senate from 1994 through 2002.

Thompson served as chairman of the International Security Advisory Board at the United States Department of State, is a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and is a Visiting Fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, specializing in national security and intelligence.

As an actor, Thompson has appeared in a large number of movies and television shows. He has frequently portrayed governmental figures. In the final months of his U.S. Senate term in 2002, Thompson joined the cast of the long-running NBC television series Law & Order, playing New York City District Attorney Arthur Branch, until the network granted his request to be released from his contract in May 2007.

He was a candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination for President of the United States until he exited the race after finishing third in South Carolina Primary on January 22. He resides in McLean, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

Roscoe Dickinson


Roscoe Gilkey Dickinson was a U.S. chemist, known primarily for his work on X-ray crystallography. As professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), he was the doctoral advisor of Nobel laureate Linus Pauling and of Arnold O. Beckmann, inventor of the pH meter.

Dickinson received his undergraduate education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, in 1920, became the first person to receive a PhD from Caltech. For his dissertation he had studied the crystal structures of wulfenite, scheelite, sodium chlorate, and sodium bromate. His graduate advisor was Arthur Amos Noyes.


Guy N. Smith


Guy Newman Smith is an English writer of horror fiction.

He wrote his first horror book, Werewolf by Moonlight in 1974, which spawned two sequels. He is probably best known for a series of six Crabs books, the first of which, Night of the Crabs, was published in 1976. The series chronicles invasions by giant, man-eating crabs of various areas of British coastline. These books are legendary in the horror fiction world, so much so that they were even spoofed by the award winning comedian and writer Matthew Holness under the guise of his Garth Marenghi persona.

A prolific writer, Guy has had over a thousand short stories and magazine articles published. He has written a series of children's books under the pseudonym Jonathon Guy, two thrillers under the name Gavin Newman and a dozen non-fiction books on countryside matters. But, it is for his 70 or so horror books that he is best known.

The success and popularity of Guy N. Smith is down to a tried and tested horror book formula, mixing plenty of sex, violence and gore with an easy to read and descriptive writing style. But the thing that has most endeared him to his fans is his ability to inject humour into serious and sexual situations in a self-lampooning way. This means his books work on two levels; they are a good horror novel, which is at the same time a satire of itself. The best of these phrases, known amongst the fans as "classic quotes" can often be enjoyed in isolation, without reading the whole book.

His novels enjoyed considerable popularity in Poland in the early 1990s, having been cheaply translated and published as pocket editions by the Amber publishing house.

A life-long pipe smoker, he won the British pipe smoking championship in 2003. He collects pipes and smoking ephemera and has also written a book on tobacco - Tobacco Culture: A DIY Guide, published in 1976. He is also an active pro-smoking campaigner.

Gunter Grass

Günter Wilhelm Grass is a Nobel Prize-winning German author and playwright.

He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). Since 1945, he has lived in West Germany, but in his fiction he frequently returns to the Danzig of his childhood.

He is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum, a key text in European magic realism. His works frequently have a strong left wing, socialist political dimension, and Grass has been an active supporter of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. In 2006, Grass caused a controversy with his belated disclosure of Waffen-SS service during the final months of World War II.

English-speaking readers probably know Grass best as the author of The Tin Drum, published in 1959. It was followed in 1961 by the novella Cat and Mouse and in 1963 by the novel Dog Years, which together with The Tin Drum form what is known as The Danzig Trilogy. All three works deal with the rise of Nazism and with the war experience in the unique cultural setting of Danzig and the delta of the Vistula River. Dog Years, in many respects a sequel to The Tin Drum, portrays the area's mixed ethnicities and complex historical background in lyrical prose that is highly evocative.

Grass received dozens of international awards and in 1999 achieved the highest literary honour: the Nobel Prize for Literature. His literature is commonly categorized as part of the artistic movement of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, roughly translated as "coming to terms with the past."

In 2002 Grass returned to the forefront of world literature with Crabwalk. This novella, one of whose main characters first appeared in Cat and Mouse, was Grass' most successful work in decades.

Representatives of the City of Bremen joined together to establish the Günter Grass Foundation, with the aim of establishing a centralized collection of his numerous works, especially his many personal readings, videos and films. The Günter Grass House in Lübeck houses exhibitions of his drawings and sculptures, an archive and a library.