19 January, 2009

Sir V.S. Pritchett


Sir Victor Sawdon Pritchett CH CBE (December 16, 1900 - March 20, 1997), was a British writer and critic. He was particularly known for his short stories, collected in a number of volumes. His most famous books are the memoirs A Cab at the Door (1968) and Midnight Oil (1971).

Pritchett was knighted in 1975 for his services to literature and became Companion of Honour in 1993. His awards include Heinemann Award (1969), PEN Award (1974), W.H. Smith Literary Award (1990), and Golden Pen Award (1993). He died of a stroke in London on March 20, 1997.

Leo Rosten



Leo Calvin Rosten was born in Lodz, Russian Empire (now Poland) and died in New York City. He was a teacher, academic and humorist best remembered for his stories about the night-school "prodigy" Hyman Kaplan (first published in The New Yorker in the 1930s, and later reprinted in two volumes—The Education of Hyman Kaplan and The Return of Hyman Kaplan, under the pseudonym Leonard Q. Ross).

He is also well-known for his encyclopedic volume The Joys of Yiddish (1968), a guide to the Yiddish language and to Jewish culture (as well as a source for anecdotes and Jewish humor). It was followed by "O Kaplan! My Kaplan!" 1976, and Hooray for Yiddish! (1982) , a humorous lexicon of the American language as influenced by Jewish culture.

Among his other works is a large volume titled Leo Rosten's Treasury of Jewish Quotations. Among his own many quotations are: "A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead," "Truth is stranger than fiction; fiction has to make sense," "We see things as we are, not as they are," and "I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all."

Rosten was a successful screenwriter. He wrote the story for The Dark Corner, a film noir starring Mark Stevens; and Lured, the Douglas Sirk-directed period drama featuring Lucille Ball. He is listed as one of the writers for Captain Newman, M.D. adapted from his novel of the same title. Other films: Mechanized Patrolling (1943) (as Leonard Q. Ross), They Got Me Covered (1943) (story) (as Leonard Q. Ross), All Through the Night" (1942) (story) (as Leonard Q. Ross), The Conspirators (1944) (screenplay), The Velvet Touch (1948), Sleep, My Love (1948) (novel) (screenplay), Double Dynamite (1951) (story), Walk East on Beacon (1952), and Mister Cory (1957) (story).

At a tribute dinner to fellow humorist W. C. Fields, a youngish and reportedly nervous Rosten came up with the unscripted remark about Fields that "anyone who hates babies and dogs can't be all bad!" This statement is often misattributed to Fields himself.

In 1935, Rosten married Priscilla Ann "Pam" Mead (1911-1959), sister of anthropologist Margaret Mead. They had two daughters: Madeline Rosten and Margaret Ramsey Rosten, and a son, Philip Rosten (1938-1996), who in turn had 6 grandchildren, Josh and Ben Lee (Madeline), Seth Muir (Margaret), and Alexander, Carrie and Pamela Rosten (Phillip). Carrie followed in her grandfather's literary footsteps and has authored three books including a young adult novel, "Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong)"

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.


Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr., born Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger, was a Pulitzer Prize recipient and American historian and social critic whose work explored the liberalism of American political leaders including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. He served as special assistant and "court historian" to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963. He wrote a detailed account of the Kennedy Administration, from the transition period to the president's state funeral, titled A Thousand Days. In 1968, he actively supported the presidential campaign of Senator Robert F. Kennedy until Kennedy's assassination in the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968, and wrote the biography Robert Kennedy and His Times several years later.

During the deliberations of the United States decision to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, with President Kennedy and his closest advisers, he was one of two persons who opposed the strike (the other being William Fulbright); however, he sat silent, except writing a private memorandum to the President, not wanting to undermine the President's desire for a unanimous decision. Following the overt failure of the invasion, Schlesinger later lamented "In the months after the Bay of Pigs, I bitterly reproached myself for having kept so silent during those crucial discussions in the cabinet room . . . I can only explain my failure to do more than raise a few timid questions by reporting that one's impulse to blow the whistle on this nonsense was simply undone by the circumstances of the discussion." Schlesinger was a prolific contributor to liberal theory and was a passionate and articulate voice for Kennedy-style liberalism. He was admired for his wit, scholarship, and devotion to delineating the history and nature of liberalism. Since 1990 he had been a critic of multiculturalism.

He popularized the term "imperial presidency" during the Nixon administration by writing the book The Imperial Presidency.

“ If we are to survive, we must have ideas, vision, and courage. These things are rarely produced by committees. Everything that matters in our intellectual and moral life begins with an individual confronting his own mind and conscience in a room by himself.”

Mr. Schlesinger died on February 28, 2007, at the age of 89.

James Schlesinger


James Rodney Schlesinger was United States Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975 under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He became America's first Secretary of Energy under Jimmy Carter.

While Secretary of Defense, he opposed amnesty for draft dodgers, and pressed for development of more sophisticated nuclear weapon systems. Additionally, his support for the A-10 and the lightweight fighter program helped ensure that they were carried to completion.

Coach Howard Schnellenberger


Howard Schnellenberger is an American football coach at both the professional and college level. He is currently head coach of Florida Atlantic University. He previously held head coaching positions with the University of Oklahoma, University of Louisville, University of Miami, where he won a national championship, and the Baltimore Colts. He has also worked extensively as an assistant coach at the college and pro levels, including being a part of the staff of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins. Schnellenberger is also famous for recruiting Joe Namath to the University of Alabama for Bear Bryant in 1961.

Schnellenberger graduated from Flaget High School in Louisville, Kentucky, where he played football, basketball and baseball before earning a scholarship to the University of Kentucky. Schnellenberger was an All-American tight end at Kentucky and worked as an assistant coach there under head coach Blanton Collier. There he joined the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. Schnellenberger also served as offensive coordinator under his college coach Bear Bryant at Alabama, helping Alabama to win three national championships in 1961, 1964 and 1965 before leaving in 1966 to take a job in the NFL as offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams under George Allen, then being hired by Don Shula in 1970 to become the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins and parlaying the success of Miami's 1972 perfect season into becoming the new head coach of the Baltimore Colts in 1973.

Schnellenberger's Colts went 4-10 in his one full season but managed to pull an upset on the heavily favored Dolphins towards the end of the 1973 season. After the Colts started the 1974 season 0-3, Schnellenberger was fired and replaced by Joe Thomas. He returned to the Dolphins coaching staff the following year and remained there until being offered the head coaching job at the University of Miami.

William Shirer


William Lawrence Shirer was an American journalist and historian. He became known for his broadcasts on CBS from the German capital of Berlin through the first year of World War II.

Shirer first became famous through his account of those years in his Berlin Diary (published in 1941), but his greatest achievement was his 1960 book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, published by The Ballantine Publishing Group. This book of well over 1000 pages is still in print, and is a detailed examination of the Third Reich filled with historical information from German archives captured at the end of the war, along with impressions Shirer gained during his days as a correspondent in Berlin. Later in 1969, his work The Collapse of the Third Republic drew on his experience spent living and working in France from 1925 to 1933. This work is filled with historical information about the Battle of France from the secret orders and reports of the French High Command and of the commanding generals of the field. Shirer also used the memoirs, journals, and diaries of the prominent British, French, Italian, Spanish, and French figures in government, Parliament, the Army, and diplomacy.

Shirer died in 1993 in Boston. He was 89.

Jacques Tati


Jacques Tati was a noted French comedic filmmaker. He died in 1982.

James Thurber


James Grover Thurber was an American author, cartoonist and celebrated wit. Thurber was best known for his contributions to The New Yorker magazine.

He died in 1961, at the age of 66, due to complications from pneumonia, which followed upon a stroke suffered at his home.

Irving Wallace


Irving Wallace was an American bestselling author and screenwriter, penned best-selling books that were extensively researched, including such page-turners as The Chapman Report (1960), about human sexuality; The Prize (1962), a fictional behind-the-scenes account of the Nobel Prizes (1972); and The Word (1972), about the discovery of a new gospel. Wallace was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he attended Kenosha Central High School.

Wallace began selling stories to magazines when he was a teenager. After serving in World War II, he continued to write for magazines, but soon turned to a more lucrative job as a Hollywood screenwriter. He collaborated on such films as The West Point Story (1950), Split Second (1953), Meet Me at the Fair (1953), and The Big Circus (1959).

After an unsatisfying stint in Hollywood, he devoted himself full-time to writing books. He published his first nonfiction work in 1955, The Fabulous Originals, and his first fiction offering, The Sins of Philip Fleming, in 1959. The latter, ignored by critics, was followed by the enormously successful The Chapman Report.

Wallace was a prolific author and published 33 books during his lifetime, all translated into 31 different languages.

Irving Wallace was married to Sylvia Wallace, a former magazine writer and editor. Her first novel, The Fountains, was an American best seller and published in twelve foreign editions. Her second novel, Empress, was published in 1980. She also helped produce, along with their two children, The Book of Lists #2. Sylvia Wallace died October 20, 2006 at the age of 89.

Several of Wallace's books have been made into films. Among his best known books are The Chapman Report (1960), The Prize (1962), The Word (1972) and The Fan Club (1974). He also produced some notable non-fiction works, including several editions of The People's Almanac and The Book of Lists.

Wallace died of pancreatic cancer in 1990 and was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Edward Weston


Edward Henry Weston was an American photographer, and co-founder of Group f/64. Most of his work was done using an 8 by 10 inch view camera.

Born in Highland Park, Illinois on March 24, 1886. He was given his first camera, a Kodak Bull's-Eye #2, for his 16th birthday, when he began taking photographs. His favorite hangouts were Chicago parks and a farm owned by his aunt. Weston met with quick success and the Chicago Art Institute exhibited his photographs a year later, in 1903. He attended the Illinois College of Photography.

In 1906, Weston moved to California, where he decided to stay and pursue a career in photography. He had four sons with his wife, Flora May Chandler (whom he married in 1909): Edward Chandler (1910), Theodore Brett (1911), Laurence (1914) and Cole (1919). In 1910, Weston opened his first photographic studio in Tropico, California (now Glendale) and wrote articles about his unconventional methods of portraiture for several high-circulation magazines.

In 1922, Weston experienced a transition from pictorialism to straight photography, becoming "the pioneer of precise and sharp presentation". His pictures included the human figure as well as items of nature, including seaside wildlife, plants, and landscapes. Tina Modotti, his professional (and romantic) partner, often accompanied him to Mexico, creating much gossip in the media. Weston's sons were also frequent companions, receiving lessons in photography from their experienced father. Brett and Cole later embarked on their own careers in the field, along with Weston's grandson Kim and great-granddaughter Christine.

After 1927, Weston worked mainly with nudes, still life — his shells and vegetable studies were especially important — and landscape subjects. After a few exhibitions of his works in New York, he co-founded Group f/64 in 1932 with Ansel Adams, Willard Van Dyke and others. The term f/64 referred to a very small aperture setting on a large format camera, which secured great depth of field, making a photograph appear evenly sharp from foreground to background. Weston also achieved great sharpness by not enlarging. He made contact prints from his 4x5" or 8x10" negatives. The detailed, straight photography that the group espoused was in opposition to the pictorialist soft-edged methods that were still in fashion at the time.

In 1937 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation awarded Weston a fellowship, the first given to a photographer. He married his assistant, Charis Wilson, the following year (they had lived together since 1934, and divorced in 1946). During this time he received exclusive commissions and published several books, some with Wilson, including an edition of Whitman's Leaves of Grass illustrated with his photographs. He also produced some of his few color photographs with Willard Van Dyke in 1947. Weston also collaborated on several volumes of his photographs with photography critic Nancy Newhall, beginning in 1946.

Stricken with Parkinson's Disease, Weston made his last photographs at Point Lobos State Reserve in 1948. 1952 saw the publication of a 50th-anniversary portfolio of his work, printed by his son Brett. Brett and Cole Weston, as well as Brett's wife Dody Warren, were appointed to print 800 of what he considered his most important negatives under his supervision in the years 1955 to 1956.

Edward Weston died in his house on Wildcat Hill in Carmel Highlands in Big Sur, California on January 1, 1958, aged 71.

John Young



John Watts Young is a former NASA astronaut who walked on the Moon on April 21, 1972 during the Apollo 16 mission.

Young enjoyed one of the longest and busiest careers of any astronaut in the American space program. He twice journeyed to the Moon, was the first person to fly into space six times, and is the only person to have piloted in space four different classes of spacecraft: Gemini spacecraft, Apollo Command/Service Module, Apollo Lunar Module, and Space Shuttle.