29 April, 2009

Dan Rowan

Daniel Hale “Dan” Rowan was an American comedian. He was featured in the television show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, where he played straight man to Dick Martin.

Born on a carnival train near the small town of Beggs, Oklahoma, under the name of “Daniel Hale David”, Rowan toured with his parents, Oscar and Nellie David, who performed a singing and dancing act with the carnival. He was orphaned at age 11, spent four traumatic years at the McClelland Home in Pueblo, Colorado, then was taken in by a foster family at age 16 and enrolled in Pueblo's Central High School.

After graduating from high school, he hitchhiked to Los Angeles, California, in 1940 and found a job in the mailroom at Paramount Pictures; quickly ingratiating himself with studio head Buddy DeSylva, a year later he became Paramount's youngest staff writer.

During World War II, Rowan served as a fighter pilot in the United States Army Air Forces. He flew Curtiss P-40s and scored two kills against Japanese aircraft before he was shot down and seriously wounded over New Guinea. His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart.

Dan Rowan and Dick Martin as caricatured for NBC by Sam BermanAfter his discharge, he returned to California where he teamed with Dick Martin and started a comedy night-club act. The team had appeared on television before, but it was not until the success of a summer special in 1967 that they found fame on Laugh-In.

Rowan retired and spent the remainder of his years between his residence in Florida and his barge in the canals of France. In his 40s he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, which led him to becoming insulin dependent. He died of lymphatic cancer at the age of 65 in Siesta Key, Florida.

In 1986, a book of letters written between himself and author John D. MacDonald was published entitled A Friendship: The Letters of Dan Rowan and John D. MacDonald, 1967-1974.

Prince Rainier III of Monaco

Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, styled His Serene Highness The Sovereign Prince of Monaco, ruled the Principality of Monaco for more than 50 years, making him one of the longest ruling monarchs of the 20th century. Though he was best known outside of Europe for having married American actress Grace Kelly, he was also responsible for reforms to Monaco's constitution and for expanding the principality's economy beyond its traditional gambling base. Gambling accounts for approximately three percent of the nation's annual revenue today; when Rainier ascended the throne in 1949, it accounted for more than 95 percent.

Rainier III was of French, Mexican, Spanish, German, Scottish, English, Dutch, and Italian ancestry.

Through his great-grandmother Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton, who was briefly Princess of Monaco, he was a descendent of James IV of Scotland. His great-great-great-grandmother was Stéphanie de Beauharnais, the adopted daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte and later the Grand Duchess of Baden. Other ancestors include William Thomas Beckford, the scandalous 18th century English collector, tastemaker, writer, and eccentric.

Rainier was also a descendent of William the Silent of Orange-Nassau, the main leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish Empire and ancestor to the current Dutch Royal Family; Hortense Mancini, the Duchess of Mazarin and mistress of King Charles II of England; Gabrielle de Polignac, a favorite of Marie Antoinette; Joan of Kent, the first Princess of Wales; King Charles IX of Sweden; King Frederick II of Denmark and Norway; Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, Claude, Duke of Guise and Prince Thomas M. Marciano II of Genoa.

Rainier was born in Monaco, the only son of Prince Pierre of Monaco, Duke of Valentinois (né Count Pierre de Polignac) and his wife, Hereditary Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois. Born in Algeria, his mother was the only child of Prince Louis II and Marie Juliette Louvet; she was later legitimized through formal adoption and subsequently named heiress to the throne of Monaco. His father was a half-French, half-Mexican nobleman from Brittany who adopted his wife's surname, Grimaldi, upon marriage and was made a prince of Monaco by his father-in-law.

Rainier had one sibling, HSH Princess Antoinette, Baroness of Massy, an unpopular figure generally believed to be meddlesome enough regarding her children's place in the line of succession to have forced Princess Grace to demand that she leave the country.

Rainier was first sent to study at Summerfields School in St Leonards-on-Sea, England, and later at Stowe, a prestigious English public school in Buckinghamshire. From there, he went to the Institut Le Rosey in Rolle and Gstaad, Switzerland, before continuing to the University of Montpellier in France, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, and finally to the Institut d'études politiques de Paris in Paris.

Rainier's maternal grandfather, Prince Louis II, had been a general in the French army during World War I. During World War II, Rainier served as an artillery officer in the army. As a second lieutenant, he fought so courageously during the German counter-offensive in Alsace that he won the Croix de Guerre and Bronze Star and was given the rank of Chevalier in the Legion of Honor.

On 9 May 1949, Rainier became the Sovereign Prince of Monaco on the death of Prince Louis II, his mother having renounced her rights to the throne in his favor in 1944.

After ascending the throne, Rainier worked assiduously to recoup Monaco's lustre, which had become tarnished through neglect (especially financial) and scandal (his mother, Princess Charlotte, took a noted jewel thief known as René the Walking Stick as her lover). According to numerous obituaries, the prince was faced upon his ascension with a treasury that was practically empty. The holder of 55 percent of the nation's reserves, the Societé Monégasque de Banques et de Métaux Précieux, was bankrupt. The small nation's traditional gambling clientele, largely European aristocrats, found themselves with reduced funds after World War II. Other gambling centers had opened to compete with Monaco, many of them successfully. To compensate for this loss of income, Rainier decided to promote Monaco as a tax haven, commercial center, real-estate development opportunity, and international tourist attraction. The early years of his reign saw the overweening involvement of the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, who took control of the Société des Bains de Mer and envisioned Monaco as solely a gambling resort. Prince Rainier regained control of the Société in 1964, effectively ensuring that his vision of Monaco would be implemented.

As Prince of Monaco, Rainier was also responsible for the principality's new constitution in 1962 which significantly reduced the power of the sovereign. (He suspended the previous Constitution in 1959, saying that it "has hindered the administrative and political life of the country.") The changes ended autocratic rule, placing power with the prince and a National Council of eighteen elected members.

At the time of his death, he was the world's second longest-serving head of state, ranking just below King Rama IX of Thailand. During the last two or three years of his life, Rainier was in the custom of asking his valet each morning, "Has Rama survived the night? Or did I just move up in the ranks?"

In the last three years of his life, Prince Rainier's health progressively declined. In early 2004 he was hospitalized for coronary problems. In October he was again in hospital with a lung infection. In November of that year, Prince Albert appeared on CNN's Larry King Live and told Larry King that his father was fine, though he was suffering from bronchitis. On 7 March 2005, he was again hospitalized with a lung infection. Rainier was moved to the hospital's intensive care unit on 22 March. One day later, on 23 March, it was announced he was on a ventilator, suffering from renal and heart failure. On 26 March the palace reported that despite intensive ongoing efforts to improve the prince's health, he was continuing to deteriorate; however, the following day, he was reported to be conscious, his heart and kidney conditions having stabilized. His prognosis remained "very reserved".

On 31 March 2005, following consultation with the Crown Council of Monaco, the Palais Princier announced that Rainier's son, Hereditary Prince Albert, Marquis des Baux, would take over the duties of his father as Regent since Rainier was no longer able to exercise his royal functions.

On 1 April 2005, the Palace announced that Rainier's doctors believe his chances of recovery were "slim"; on 6 April it announced that Prince Rainier had died in Monaco at 6:35 am local time at the age of 81. He was succeeded by his only son, who became Prince Albert II.

He was buried on 15 April 2005, beside his wife, Princess Grace, at the Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the resting place of previous sovereign princes of Monaco and several of their wives, and the place where Prince Rainier and Princess Grace had been married in 1956.

Lord Thomas Johnston Taylor

Thomas Johnston Taylor, businessman and public servant: born Glasgow 27 April 1912; President, Scottish Co-Operative Wholesale Society 1965-70; created 1968 Baron Taylor of Gryfe; Chairman, Forestry Commission 1970-76; Chairman, Scottish Railways Board 1971-80; chairman, Morgan Grenfell (Scotland) 1973-85; Chairman, Economic Forestry Group 1976-81; FRSE 1977; Chairman, Scottish Action on Dementia 1989-95; married 1943 Isobel Wands (two daughters); died St Andrews 13 July 2001.

From being a 14-year-old school leaver from Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow who had lost his father in France at the age of three in the First World War, to chairmanships of the Forestry Commission and the Scottish Railways Board and membership of the international board of Morgan Grenfell and House of Lords select committees, Tom Taylor's journey was one of constructive achievement. Having to earn a living at 14, he became an office boy in the Scottish Co-Operative Wholesale Society, then the biggest commercial organisation in Scotland; he was eventually to become its president.
When he was 20, in 1932, the SCWS, run by elders who really cared about their junior employees and their personal fulfilment, gave him a scholarship which entitled him to spend a year in Germany on the eve of Hitler's coming to power – and, crucially, to learn German.
He took an active part in the Independent Labour Party, being Jimmy Maxton's proverbial bag carrier, and, at the age of 22, got himself elected as a Glasgow City Councillor, fighting two parliamentary elections as an ILP candidate subsequently, in the second of which, in Edinburgh in 1942, he challenged the wartime consensus to allow the party which held the seat to choose a successor on the death of an incumbent, and was severely trounced.
A contact with Fenner Brockway led to a defining moment in Taylor's life. Brockway, who was Secretary of the Independent Labour Party, recalled in March 1938 that Taylor spoke German and knew Vienna. He pleaded with him to go to Austria to assist the illegal escape of a number of people whose lives were threatened. Having lived in Germany and witnessed the burning of homes and business premises of Jews and the beating up of innocent people in public by brown-shirted storm troopers wielding their truncheons, Taylor needed no convincing of the threat which now faced Austrian opponents of the German invaders.
His superiors in the SCWS were somewhat surprised when their clerk asked for his summer holiday in March to go to Austria but acquiesced, impressed by his idealism. There followed meetings in London with Brockway and in co-operation with exiles in Paris plans were prepared. Forged passports with photographs and signatures of the intended escapees were provided and hidden in Taylor's suitcase. He was given a list of names and telephone numbers of contacts in Vienna. He coded the information, having destroyed the numbers, by marking certain pages in a paperback, which he carried.
At the German-Austrian border he realised how dangerous his situation was. The train stopped – and the storm troopers questioned all passengers and searched some of the luggage. He was able to convince them that he was a harmless British tourist visiting Vienna.
The intended escapees were well-known socialist activists whose telephone numbers would certainly be under the surveillance of the Gestapo; his instructions were to contact intermediaries who had been alerted from Paris, were not suspect and would arrange a safe rendezvous. The meetings took place in a pub or café with friends sitting at a neighbouring table to prevent anyone overhearing the conversation and to warn of any Gestapo raid. Taylor would recall that whenever possible he had to use public telephone kiosks.
His first contact was a young American couple who were studying at the university. That worked well, but another was a doctor with a consulting room in the heart of Vienna. Taylor noted his consulting hours and presented himself as a patient. Announcing that he had come from "mutual friends in Paris", he waited for him to make the next move. The doctor, however, looked at Taylor blankly and said that he had no friends in Paris. He turned out to be a locum, the contact doctor being off for the day. Contact with the Jewish doctor to whom Taylor had been directed was established two days later.
One difficulty Taylor encountered was convincing individuals that they should grasp the opportunity to escape. Some had families who would be left behind. Others had become accustomed to the inefficiency of the existing Austrian dictatorship and did not realise the extent of the brutality of the Nazi regime. It was not unknown under Dollfuss for socialist sympathisers in the police to warn you beforehand in the event of any anticipated raid on your house. Taylor had to warn his friends that under Hitler it would be different.
After 10 days of nervous discussion and planning, eight refugees were on their way by separate routes and on different days. All the main railway stations were being watched by the Gestapo in Paris. Using an international timetable Taylor made plans to avoid them. The journey to the frontier would take several local trains; to avoid suspicion, each ticket was purchased for a relatively short journey.
All missions were successfully completed. Taylor told me of walking in the sunshine on a Sunday morning in Vienna, the beauty of the place shattered by the shouts of "Heil Hitler" and the sharp crash of the jackboots of storm troopers marching in a great Nazi parade. As he made his way out of town he caught a glimpse of Dr Goebbels in a restaurant.
The Second World War presented a considerable dilemma for Taylor – he hated Hitlerism but at the same time was associated with the ILP, which had a long pacifist tradition. He registered as a conscientious objector but took part in relief work in Europe as a member of the United Nations Relief and Reconstruction Administration (Unrra), where he was involved in the resettlement of refugees who wandered homeless in Europe in post-war reconstruction.
During his spell with Unrra, he lived in the United States and observed the changes that took place immediately after the war in modern supermarket retailing. On his return to Scotland, he tried to direct the Co-Operative movement of which, in 1965, he was to become President, to anticipate these dramatic changes. Unfortunately there was little response and he resigned from the service of the Co-Operative Society.
In 1963, on the recommendation of Willie Ross, the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Taylor was appointed by Sir Alec Douglas-Home as a Forestry Commissioner. The Forestry Commission had been instituted in 1919 to make good the timber shortages caused by the First World War, but over the 13 years in which Taylor was to serve – confirmed for a second term by Harold Wilson, anointed in 1970 as Chairman by a Labour government, and re-anointed by Ted Heath – came increasingly to recognise its recreational responsibilities.
Taylor worked at constructive bipartisan relations with politicians of different political hues. George Holmes, later to be Director-General, but, in Taylor's time, Research Director and Harvesting and Marketing Commissioner, recalls:
Tom was an extraordinary combination of a hard-headed businessman and a left-wing, socially aware, politician. He worked well with my predecessor as Director-General, the effective Aberdonian John Dickson, partly because he was a chairman who did not fuss. He was a great guy to have at the helm.
An enthusiast for the development of wood processing in Britain, he was proud to visit alongside MPs the Wiggins Teape Corpach development near Fort William. He had played a crucial part in persuading Willie Ross, now the Scottish Secretary, and Harold Wilson to siphon off significant public funds to the project, inaugurated in 1966. He was unapologetic in the 1980s when Corpach ceased to produce pulp, after being acquired by Finnish interests who preferred to produce newsprint in Finland.
As Chairman he was a believer in public access, caravan sites, and forest cabins – though less excited about nature conservation. His first years of chairmanship coincided with reviews of government policy and much cost-benefit analysis. Policies had to be tightened to provide returns on investment; and recreation facilities were subject always to the hot breath of the Treasury. Taylor has been criticised in retrospect for being too keen on what Marion Shoard in her seminal 1980 book The Theft of the Countryside called "the serried ranks of conifers" – an insufficient sensitivity to the claims of broad-leafed trees.
Much of his energy – it was formidable and elastic – was consumed with managing the upheaval of 1974 in which the headquarters of the Forestry Commission was moved by government diktat from London and Basingstoke to Edinburgh. Any such transfer is traumatic for key staff with mortgages and children at secondary school. Taylor won justified plaudits for kindness and good sense at this difficult time for those who worked in the senior echelons of the commission. He inspired loyalty.
Taylor served 10 years, too, on the board of British Rail, serving as Chairman of the Scottish Railways Board from 1971 to 1980, and before leaving warned the Government of the dangers of their proposed structure for the privatised industry. He took a lively interest in Scottish industrial and cultural affairs. He was a member of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, served on the board of Scottish Television and was Vice-Chairman of the Glasgow Citizens Theatre. The last 12 years of his business life were spent in the service of Morgan Grenfell, the leading London merchant bank; he was chairman of Morgan Grenfell (Scotland) and a member of their international board.
In the midst of all this activity he took an active part in the House of Lords, to which he was sent, as Lord Taylor of Gryfe, in 1968, concentrating on forestry, Scottish industry and foreign affairs. In 1977-79 he was one of the staunchest supporters of the Labour Vote No Campaign, which scuppered Scottish devolution. However, by 1995 he had changed his mind and he told the House of Lords on 4 July:
A great deal has been said about preserving the Union. The noble Viscount, Lord Weir, has painted a picture of decline and a slippery slope towards independence. I tell the House, that if we do not respond to the wishes of the Scottish people for an assembly, the descent into the demand for complete independence will grow and will not diminish. The people of Scotland will feel that they have a right to their own assembly. But if they are told that they cannot have it and that the English parliament has decided that they cannot have it, the reaction will be towards more extreme demands for independence than are involved in the document which Lord Ewing [of Kirkford] as Chairman of the Scottish Constitutional Convention has produced.
He left the Labour Party for the SDP in 1981 but returned in 1990.
Tom Taylor believed in the silent form of worship of the Quakers, sharing a belief in pacifism with his devoted wife Isobel, who regularly worshipped with him at the Friends Meeting House in Glasgow and subsequently in St Andrews.

by Tam Dalyell