Richard Attenborough, Actor and Director, 1923-2014

attenborough-obit-3-master315British actor and director Richard Attenborough died on Sunday at the age of 90. Although a familiar actor in Britain, it wasn’t until he was cast in the 1963 war film The Great Escape that he became established in Hollywood. He won Golden Globe Awards for best supporting actor in The Sand Pebbles in 1966 and again in 1967 for his role in Doctor Doolittle. He also acted in Indian director Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players and in Steve Spielberg’s hit Jurassic Park. His later years were devoted to directing, including his 1982 epic Gandhi which was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won eight.  His earlier directing jobs include the 1969 satirical musical Oh! What a Lovely War; Young Winston in 1972; A Chorus Line in 1985, and Cry Freedom in 1987. Mr. Attenborough was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1967, was knighted in 1976, made a baron in 1993 and given a seat in the House of Lords. For more about this distinguished “giant of British cinema” see today’s NYT article. And check the EPL catalog for more of his films.

Laura

Nadine Gordimer, 1923-2014

15GORDIMER-master675South African writer Nadine Gordimer died today in Johannesburg at the age of 90. Known for her writings dealing with themes of injustice and cruelty in apartheid South Africa, Ms. Gordimer wrote more than two dozen works of fiction as well as essays and literary criticism. Three of her books were banned in her country – her second novel A World of Strangers (1958), The Late Bourgeois World (1966), and Burger’s Daughter (1979).  In 1974 she on the Booker Prize for The Conservationist and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991. She said it wasn’t her country’s problems that started her writing. “On the contrary, it was learning to write that sent me falling, falling through the surface of the South African way of life.”  She continued writing after apartheid, saying “it wasn’t apartheid that made me a writer, and it isn’t the end of apartheid that’s going to stop me.” Read the entire NYT article here and check the EPL catalog for works by this acclaimed author.

Laura

Actress and Activist Ruby Dee, 1922-2014

deeobitActress Ruby Dee died Wednesday at her home in New Rochell, NY at the age of 91. A passionate and versatile performer, she received accolades for her role in the 1970 Athol Fugard drama Boesman and Lena, and her role as Ruth Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark drama A Raisin in the Sun. She went on to reprise that role in the 1961 film version with one reviewer noting: “Is there a better young actress in America, or one who can make everything she does so effortless?” Her film career included roles in the films of Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever) as well as for a supporting role in the 2007 film American Gangster, for which she won an Oscar nomination. A lifelong civil rights activist, along with her husband Ossie Davis, Ms. Dee “lent her voice and presence to the cause of racial equality outside show business.” In With Ossie and Ruby, she wrote” The largest piece of unfinished business before humankind is, in our opinion, poverty, spiritual as well as material, racism, yes, and sexism, too; Struggle is all there is, and we are still committed.” Read more about this legendary actress in today’s NYTimes and NPR tributes.  And check the EPL catalog for more of her works.

Laura

Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

mayang86-year-old poet and activist Maya Angelou died Tuesday at her home in Winston Salem, N.C. Born Marguerite Johnson, she grew up in St. Louis, Mo. and Stamps, Ark. and was first called Maya by her brother. Leaving a troubled childhood and a segregated South, she began a career as both dancer and singer, touring Europe in the 1950s in a production of Porgy and Bess. She also studied dance with Martha Graham and performed with Alvin Ailey. Patrick Henry Bass, an editor at Essence Magazine, talked about her unique voice: “You would hear that voice, and that voice would capture a humanity, and that voice would calm you in so many ways through some of the most significant challenges.” The first of her series of memoirs I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings revealed some of the “scars of her past”. Film director John Singleton who used Ms. Angelou’s poems in his film Poetic Justice said he remembers the effect her poem Still I Rise had on him: “It makes me feel better about myself, or at least made me feel better about myself when I was young.” The poem begins with these lines:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Read the entire articles from NPR and from the NYT here.  And check out the EPL catalog for the many works by this acclaimed author.

Laura

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1927-2014

Marquez-Gabriel-adv-obit-slide-LP84-superJumboNobel-Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez died today in Mexico City at age 87. The Colombian novelist “widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century,” was a master of the literary genre magic realism. In a 1984 interview with NPR, he said his writing was forever shaped by the grandparents who raised him as a young child:

“There was a real dichotomy in me because, on one hand … there was the world of my grandfather; a world of stark reality, of civil wars he told me about…. And then, on the other hand, there was the world of my grandmother, which was full of fantasy, completely outside of reality.”

His 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, which poet Pablo Neruda called “the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since Don Quixote” established him as a literary giant. Both the New York Times and NPR have in-depth coverage. And check out the EPL catalog for works by this revered author.

Laura

Peter Matthiessen, 1927-2014

Matthiessen-obit-4-master675Author and naturalist Peter Matthiessen died Saturday at his home in Sagaponack, New York at age 86. According to this fascinating NYT article, Mr. Matthiessen ” was a man of many parts: litterateur, journalist, environmentalist, explorer, Zen Buddhist, professional fisherman and, in the early 1950s, undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency in Paris.” He wrote more than 30 books, mostly nonfiction, and is the only writer to win the National Book Award in both fiction (Shadow Country) and nonfiction (The Snow Leopard).  His final novel In Paradise has just been published. You can read the entire NYT article here.  And check the EPL catalog for more works by this author.

Laura

Alain Resnais, Acclaimed French Filmmaker, Dead at 91.

resnais-obit-2-1393801146731-master675French filmmaker Alain Resnais died on Saturday in Paris at the age of 91. Most well-known for his films Last Year at Marienbad and Hiroshima Mon Amour, Mr. Resnais was often associated with French New Wave directors Jean-Luc Godard and Francoise Truffaut. “Fascinated by the ability of film editing to take apart and reassemble fragments of time, Mr Resnais incorporated the effects of scrambled memories, deja vu and fantasy into his work.” Born in 1922 in Brittany, he began making short films at the age of 14. Although most of his films were serious in nature, he loved cartoons, comedy and Broadway musicals, and was inspired by the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm. Recently honored at the Berlin Film Festival for his last film “The Life of Riley”, Mr. Resnais was editing drafts for his next project from his hospital bed. Read more about this influential director in this NYT article. And check the EPL catalog for his works.

Laura