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updated: 8/2/2014 6:21 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • Theodore  Van Kirk visits a veteran's group at the Golden Corral in Macon, Ga. The navigator for the Enola Gay spoke about his experience guiding the aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb. He was the last surviving member of a crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

      Theodore Van Kirk visits a veteran's group at the Golden Corral in Macon, Ga. The navigator for the Enola Gay spoke about his experience guiding the aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb. He was the last surviving member of a crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

  • Manny Roth

      Manny Roth

  • Dick Wagner, left, and Alice Cooper.

      Dick Wagner, left, and Alice Cooper.
    Associated Press/June 17, 2014

  • Carlo Bergonzi

      Carlo Bergonzi

 
Associated Press

• Manny Roth, a colorful club owner in Greenwich Village whose Cafe Wha? and its basement level stage was a rite of passage in the 1960s for Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen and many others, has died. He was 94.

Roth, the uncle of Van Halen singer David Lee Roth, died July 25. As boisterous as his loud-mouthed nephew, Roth was a good man to know during a special place and time -- when Greenwich Village was a mecca for upcoming artists and bohemians, where on a given night, you might see Woody Allen doing standup, or take in performances by Peter, Paul and Mary and such future rock 'n' rollers as Dylan and David Crosby.

Founded in the late 1950s, The Cafe Wha? was a former stable that Roth personally helped renovate, laying down the new floor and bringing in some friends to help decorate. The look was such a mish-mash that Roth named the club Cafe Wha?

It was a true starter club, with low pay, no liquor and little space. But Roth's stage was an essential first stop for young performers looking for a chance, or even a place to stay. Dylan showed up in early 1961, not yet 20 years old and fresh from his native Minnesota.

"He was just a kid," Roth later recalled, noting how he announced from the stage that Dylan needed a room for the night. "The first time I heard Dylan get up on an open mic, I'm thinking to myself, 'This kid doesn't have a prayer. He can't sing, can't play and certainly doesn't have any stage presence."'

You never knew who might be the next superstar. In 1966, a band named Jimmy James and the Blue Flames got a gig. His future manager was in the audience. By the following year, Jimmy James was Jimi Hendrix and the most talked about guitarist in rock. Springsteen turned up in late 1967, a teenager without a record deal. Roth also was a major booster of comedians, including Bill Cosby, George Carlin and a young troublemaker named Richard Pryor, who Roth briefly managed.

Roth was born in New Castle, Indiana, and remembered no special talent growing up beyond a willingness to take chances. After high school, he took off for Miami, attended the University of Miami and acquired a taste for performance when the school staged one of his plays. During World War II, he served with the Army Air Corps.

• Dick Wagner, the skilled guitarist who worked with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Kiss and Aerosmith, and also co-wrote many of Cooper's hits, died of respiratory failure Wednesday, his personal manager and business partner said Friday. He was 71.

Wagner grew up in Michigan. His website said he went on tour with Reed in 1973 and joined Cooper a year later. He co-wrote the Cooper hits "Only Women Bleed," ''You and Me" and "I Never Cry."

• Dick Smith, the Oscar-winning "Godfather of Makeup" who amused, fascinated and terrified moviegoers by devising unforgettable transformations for Marlon Brando in "The Godfather" and Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" among many others, has died. He was 92.

Smith, the first makeup artist to win an Academy Award for lifetime achievement, died Wednesday night in California of natural causes.

Widely regarded as the master in his field, Smith helped pioneer such now-standard materials as liquid foam latex and make special effects more realistic and spectacular. He was also known and loved for his generosity, whether exchanging letters about his craft with a teenage J.J. Abrams or mentoring future Oscar-winner special effects artist Rick Baker, who in 2011 presented Smith his honorary statuette.

"He took makeup to a whole new level; it's unbelievable what this man has done," Baker, whose own credits include "Men in Black" and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, said at the ceremony. "His work inspired a whole generation of up and coming artists."

Out of all the praise he received, Smith liked to cite a compliment paid by Laurence Olivier, whom Smith worked on for a 1959 TV production of "The Moon and Sixpence." Olivier's character was based on the painter Gauguin, who died of leprosy. Smith never forgot Olivier's response after he completed making up the actor. "'Dick, it (the makeup) does the acting for me,"' Olivier told him.

• Prolific TV producer Robert Halmi, Sr., has died.

The Hungarian-born Halmi found success as a magazine photographer after arriving in America in 1951, shooting pictures for such publications as Life and Sports Illustrated.

But in a mid-career switch in the mid-1960s, he turned to moving pictures. During the next half-century he produced more than 200 programs and miniseries for television.

His specialty was family friendly entertainment, with TV projects including "The Josephine Baker Story," the Bette Midler-starring "Gypsy," "Merlin," "Dinotopia" and "The Lion in Winter" with Glenn Close.

Other projects included TV versions of "The Odyssey," "Alice in Wonderland," "Gulliver's Travels," starring Ted Danson, and "In Cold Blood," with Anthony Edwards and Eric Roberts.

• Filmmaker Robert Drew, a pioneer of the modern documentary who in "Primary" and other movies mastered the intimate, spontaneous style known as cinema verite and schooled a generation of influential directors that included D.A. Pennebaker and Albert Maysles, has died at age 90.

Starting in 1960 with "Primary," Drew produced and sometimes directed a series of television documentaries that took advantage of such innovations as light hand-held cameras that recorded sound and pictures. With filmmakers newly unburdened, nonfiction movies no longer had to be carefully staged and awkwardly narrated. Directors could work more like journalists, following their subjects for hours and days at a time and capturing revealing moments.

Filmmaker Michael Moore said Wednesday that Drew, along with Pennebaker and Richard Leacock, "made it possible for real stories to be told through film."

"Modern art has Picasso. Rock-n-roll has Bill Haley. And the documentary film has Robert Drew," Moore said. "All of us who make nonfiction movies can trace our lineage to what he created."

Drew was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1924, and at age 19 joined the Army Air Forces, flying 31 missions in Italy and surviving being shot down in Germany. While overseas, he would be deeply impressed by the war correspondent Ernie Pyle, whose detailed reporting shaped Drew's filmmaking.

• James Shigeta, who played the lead in the 1961 movie musical "Flower Drum Song" and had a small role in the first "Die Hard," has died. He was 85.

Born in Hawaii, Shigeta first gained national fame as a singer when he won the grand prize in the early TV talent show, "The Original Amateur Hour."

Although he briefly got the spotlight after "Flower Drum Song," he never again played the leading man in a major film, although he continued to appear in TV shows and movies.

In 1988's "Die Hard," Shigeta played an executive who is shot by terrorists for refusing to divulge the codes to a vault.

• The last surviving member of the crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima once said he thought the bombing was necessary because it shortened the war and eliminated the need for an Allied land invasion that could have cost more lives on both sides.

But Theodore "Dutch" VanKirk also said it made him wary of war -- and that he would like to see all of the world's atomic bombs abolished.

He died at 93.

Theodore VanKirk flew as navigator on the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic bomb deployed in wartime over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

Like many World War II veterans, VanKirk didn't talk much about his service until much later in his life when he spoke to school groups, his son said.

"I didn't even find out that he was on that mission until I was 10 years old and read some old news clippings in my grandmother's attic," Tom VanKirk told the AP in a phone interview Tuesday.

• Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones, a multi-sport star who helped Kentucky win the first two of its eight national titles and is considered the school's greatest all-around athlete, has died. He was 88.

Jones, an All-American, was the last surviving member of the Wildcats' "Fabulous Five" that won the 1948 national championship and went on to claim Olympic gold that year with the U.S. team. He returned with three teammates under Hall of Fame coach Adolph Rupp to repeat as titlists in 1949.

That wasn't Jones' only talent.

Jones played football from 1945-48, including three seasons for legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, and earned all-Southeastern Conference honors in 1946 and '48. Tall and chiseled, he also played baseball for the Wildcats.

Jones is the only Wildcat to have his jerseys retired in basketball and football.

• Italian tenor Carlo Bergonzi, considered one of the most authoritative interpreters of Verdi's operas, has died at the age of 90.

Born in the province of Parma not far from Verdi's hometown, Bergonzi started his studies at age 16 as a baritone, only to discover later that his musical gifts lay in the tenor range. Bergonzi served in World War II in an anti-aircraft artillery unit, and was interned in a German forced labor camp for three years.

Bergonzi's international career took off after his 1956 debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where he sang the role of Radames in Verdi's Aida.

His Met career spanned 32 years and 22 roles.

• Former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, who led the city during the World Trade Organization protests in 1999, has died. He was 76.

Schell, the city's 50th mayor, served one term as mayor from 1998 to 2002 before losing a re-election bid to Greg Nickels.

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