Arts Obituaries

Jazz musician Dave Brubeck dies at 91

By Hiram Lee, 10 December 2012

A significant figure in postwar American culture, Brubeck’s classic 1959 album Time Out sold a million copies, the first jazz album to hold that distinction.

Elliott Carter (1908-2012) and the crisis of contemporary music

By Fred Mazelis, 6 December 2012

American composer Elliott Carter reflected the trajectory of Western classical music in the past century.

Art History with a capital A and H: Art critic and social historian Robert Hughes (1938-2012)

By Clare Hurley, 30 August 2012

Australian-born art critic and social historian Robert Hughes (The Shock of the New, The Fatal Shore) died August 6 in New York City after a long illness.

American writer and liberal thinker Gore Vidal, 1925-2012

By Sandy English, 27 August 2012

Gore Vidal, novelist, playwright, essayist and one-time television personality, died July 31 at his home in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles.

Kitty Wells, “Queen of Country Music” (1919-2012)

By Hiram Lee, 23 July 2012

Country music icon Kitty Wells died July 16 at her home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Film critic Andrew Sarris 1928-2012: An appreciation

An interview with film critic Andrew Sarris

By David Walsh, 26 June 2012

One of the leading American film critics of the past half-century, Andrew Sarris, died in New York City on June 20. The WSWS is reposting an interview we did with Sarris and a review of one of his later books. The interview includes a new introduction.

Film critic Andrew Sarris 1928-2012: An appreciation

Andrew Sarris and American filmmaking

By David Walsh, 26 June 2012

The World Socialist Web Site is reposting here an article originally published on July 1, 1998. See also the accompanying interview with Andrew Sarris, also from 1998, with a new introduction following his death June 20.

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury: 1920-2012

By Christine Schofelt and Hector Cordon, 14 June 2012

The American science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury was one of the most influential popular authors for the generation that grew up after the Second World War.

Science fiction writer Steven Brust on the death of Ray Bradbury

14 June 2012

Science fiction and fantasy writer Steven Brust, best known for the Vlad Taltos series of novels, offers the WSWS a comment on Ray Bradbury, who died June 5.

Guitar and folk music great Doc Watson dead at 89

By Hiram Lee, 8 June 2012

Legendary guitarist and folk singer Doc Watson died May 29 in North Carolina.

Remembering Maurice Sendak

By Christine Schofelt, 7 June 2012

Beloved author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are and many others) died May 8.

Donald “Duck” Dunn, legendary bass player, dead at 70

By James Brewer, 26 May 2012

Booker T. and the M.G.’s bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn, died suddenly while on tour in Tokyo on May 13.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, one of the great vocal artists of the 20th century, dies at 86

By Dorian Griscom, 25 May 2012

The German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was renowned for his interpretations of Schubert, Schumann and Brahms songs, but his repertoire included opera and oratorio as well.

Obituary: Hilton Kramer, art critic and neoconservative

By Sandy English, 3 May 2012

Hilton Kramer spoke for some of the most retrograde forces in American culture.

Dick Clark, longtime host of American Bandstand, dead at 82

By Hiram Lee, 25 April 2012

Broadcaster and entrepreneur Dick Clark, host of the long-running teen dance show American Bandstand, died April 18.

Levon Helm, the distinctive voice of The Band, dies at 71

By James Brewer, 23 April 2012

After 14-year bout with cancer, Levon Helm, the drummer and singer of The Band, dies in New York.

Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs dies at 88

By Hiram Lee, 31 March 2012

Earl Scruggs, a pioneering figure in Bluegrass music and an innovator on the 5-string Banjo, has died at the age of 88.

The death of Whitney Houston

By Hiram Lee, 13 February 2012

American popular singer Whitney Houston has died in Los Angeles at the age of 48.

American actor Ben Gazzara (1930-2012)

By David Walsh, 9 February 2012

Ben Gazzara had a long career in film, theater and television, which began in the mid-1950s. He worked with numerous interesting directors, although he seems to have found the greatest artistic satisfaction working with John Cassavetes.

The death of Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos

“I no longer deal with politics, with generalisations. I have stopped understanding them.”

By Stefan Steinberg, 27 January 2012

In many respects Angelopoulos expresses the artistic and political crisis of a generation of intellectuals who tragically failed to come to grips with the traumas of the past century and the extraordinary social and intellectual challenges of the new.

“Sing like your life depends on it”: Etta James—1938-2012

By Paul Bond, 26 January 2012

Etta James had an instantly recognisable voice, sinuous, tender and harsh in equal measure. She died a few days short of her 74th birthday.

Johnny Otis, R&B’s renaissance man, dies at 90

By Hiram Lee, 24 January 2012

Influential R&B musician Johnny Otis, best-known for the hit dance record “Willie and the Hand Jive” died January 17 at the age of 90.

Blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin (1931-2011): “Feel the soul and the pain”

By Paul Bond, 5 January 2012

The longtime sideman for Chicago blues great Howlin’ Wolf, Hubert Sumlin, died last month at the age of 80.

“Understatement never won a war”: British filmmaker Ken Russell (1927-2011)

By Paul Bond, 29 December 2011

British filmmaker Ken Russell, who directed Women in Love, The Music Lovers, The Devils and many other works, died last month aged 84.

Jazz drummer Paul Motian (1931-2011)

By Hiram Lee, 28 December 2011

Jazz drummer Paul Motian, a member of the classic Bill Evans Trio of the early 1960s, died recently at the age of 80.

Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director—a new biography of a major American filmmaker

By Charles Bogle, 12 September 2011

In writing Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director, biographer Patrick McGilligan has performed the valuable service of tracing the fitful arc of a great and troubled director’s life and career.

Motown songwriter Nick Ashford dies at 70

By Hiram Lee, 6 September 2011

Songwriter Nick Ashford who, along with his wife Valerie Simpson, wrote several significant hits for Motown records in the late 1960s, has died at age 70.

Prolific songwriter Jerry Leiber dead at 78

By D. Lencho, 2 September 2011

Lyricist Jerry Leiber who, with composer Mike Stoller, wrote such memorable hits as “Hound Dog” and “Stand By Me,” has died at the age of 78.

Gene McDaniels, soul singer and songwriter, dead at 76

By Hiram Lee, 30 August 2011

Soul singer and songwriter Gene McDaniels, composer of “Compared to What” and other protest songs, died July 29 at the age of 76.


A letter: Some thoughts on author Stan Barstow (1928-2011) and postwar British social realism

29 August 2011

Stan Barstow, who died August 1, was best known for his 1960 novel A Kind of Loving.

Lucian Freud: “A life of uncertainty and loneliness” … and enduring insights

By Paul Mitchell, 2 August 2011

British figurative painter Lucian Freud, a significant figure in modern art, died July 20 at his home in London at the age of 88.

Singer Amy Winehouse dead at 27

By Robert Stevens, 29 July 2011

With the death of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, aged just 27, the world lost a genuine and original talent.

A comment on Peter Falk’s finest moments: Husbands and A Woman Under the Influence

By Robert Fowler, 8 July 2011

The actor Peter Falk died late last month. Best known for his role in Columbo, the actor did some of his most interesting work in the 1970s.

“I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse”

Surrealist Leonora Carrington (1917-2011)

By Paul Bond, 22 June 2011

Leonora Carrington, who has died aged 94, was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s.

Best known for “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

Musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron dead at 62

By Matthew Brennan, 11 June 2011

Gil Scott-Heron, the African-American poet and musician best known for his song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” died May 27 at the age of 62.

Folksinger Hazel Dickens dies at 75

By Hiram Lee, 9 May 2011

Folksinger Hazel Dickens, who often sang about the struggles of coal miners in Appalachia, died April 22 in Washington, D.C.

Sidney Lumet, director of 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon, dead at 86

By Hiram Lee, 20 April 2011

American filmmaker Sidney Lumet, director of 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network and Serpico, died April 9 at the age of 86.

Elizabeth Taylor and the melodrama of American life in the 1950s and 1960s

By David Walsh, 31 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most prominent postwar American film stars, died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles March 23 at the age of 79.

Country singer Charlie Louvin dead at 83

By Hiram Lee, 1 February 2011

Country singer Charlie Louvin, one half of the influential duo The Louvin Brothers, died on January 26 at the age of 83.

Don Van Vliet—“Captain Beefheart” (1941-2010): Avant-garde musician and painter

By Kevin Martinez, 12 January 2011

Of all the musical acts that came out of America and Britain in the late 1960s and early 1970s, none were more surreal and musically ambitious than Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band.

Blake Edwards, director of classic Hollywood comedies, dies at 88

By Hiram Lee, 10 January 2011

Blake Edwards, the writer-director responsible for such films as The Pink Panther and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, died December 15 at the age of 88.

“Land of Hope and bloody Glory, eh?”: Pete Postlethwaite (1946-2011)

By Paul Bond, 8 January 2011

Public reactions to the death of Pete Postlethwaite from cancer say much about his qualities as an actor.

Remembering film director Mario Monicelli (1915-2010)

By Richard Phillips, 7 December 2010

Mario Monicelli, widely regarded as the father of the “comedy Italian-style” genre, took his life on November 29 after leaping from the fifth floor of San Giovanni hospital in Rome where he was being treated for prostate cancer.

Tony Curtis (1925-2010)

By Hiram Lee, 22 October 2010

Veteran actor Tony Curtis died September 29 at the age of 85. He was a talented performer whose best films, including Some Like it Hot and Sweet Smell of Success, remain well worth seeing.

Solomon Burke (1940-2010): a great inventor and innovator of the “soul” sound

By Tony Cornwell, 19 October 2010

Solomon Burke—who died in the Netherlands on October 10 from natural causes, aged 70—was a great soul singer with hits such as “Cry to Me,” “Tonight’s the Night,” and, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.”

Claude Chabrol: A brief appreciation

By Marty Jonas, 13 October 2010

Claude Chabrol, one of the giants of French and international cinema, died on September 12, at the age of 80. To the end of his life, he kept to a daunting work regimen, directing an average of a film a year.

Arthur Penn, American filmmaker (1922-2010)

By David Walsh, 8 October 2010

Arthur Penn, one of the most sensitive and intelligent figures in American filmmaking in the 1960s and 1970s, died in New York City on September 28.

Sculptor Louise Bourgeois dies at 98

By Paul Stuart, 2 June 2010

The remarkable French-born sculptor Louise Bourgeois, who moved to the US in the late 1930s and became an American citizen in 1955, died in a hospital in Manhattan on Monday. Bourgeois, 98, reportedly suffered a heart attack Saturday night.

Singer, actress dead at 92

Lena Horne, 1917-2010

By John Andrews, 13 May 2010

Lena Horne’s death in a New York City hospital last Sunday, less than two months shy of her 93rd birthday, is an occasion not only to review her remarkable show business career, but also to consider the conditions during which that career unfolded.

The hardcore composer: Gang Starr’s Guru dies at 48

By Hiram Lee, 28 April 2010

Rapper Guru of Gang Starr, a significant figure in hip hop music for two decades, died on April 19 at the age of 48.

A letter on “The life and career of actor Corin Redgrave”

17 April 2010

The following letter was sent in response to the appreciation of British actor Corin Redgrave published by the World Socialist Web Site on April 12.

Joined Trotskyist movement in early 1970s

The life and career of actor Corin Redgrave

By David Walsh and David North, 12 April 2010

British actor Corin Redgrave died April 6 in a south London hospital, three months shy of turning 71. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000 and suffered a major heart attack in 2005. However, he recovered sufficiently to be able to return to the stage in 2009 and apparently was in discussion about future theatrical projects.

J.D. Salinger (1919-2010): An appreciation

By James Brookfield, 2 February 2010

American author J.D. Salinger, best known for his 1951 classic The Catcher in the Rye, died Wednesday, January 27. He was 91.

The career of French film director Eric Rohmer

By David Walsh, 16 January 2010

French film director Eric Rohmer died January 11 in Paris, at the age of 89. Rohmer’s work was most prominent in the 1970s and 1980s, although he continued making films until 2007.

Photographer Roy DeCarava, chronicler of African-American life (1919-2009)

By C. W. Rogers, 7 January 2010

Roy DeCarava, one of the world’s most renowned photographers, died in October six weeks shy of his 90th birthday. DeCarava is perhaps best known for his portraits of jazz musicians and everyday life in Harlem.

Jennifer Jones, prominent figure in postwar Hollywood, dies at 90

By Hiram Lee, 28 December 2009

Jennifer Jones, the talented actress who appeared in such films as Cluny Brown, Duel in the Sun and Madame Bovary, died December 17 at the age of 90.

Mercedes Sosa, 1935-2009

By D. Lencho, 10 October 2009

Latin American music lost one of its greatest exponents with the death of Argentinean singer Mercedes Sosa last Sunday. The singer’s career, which spanned over five decades, came to fruition during one of the most critical periods in the continent’s history.


Les Paul: A legacy of ground-breaking musical invention

By Tony Cornwell, 19 August 2009

As well as being a beautiful player who never sacrificed musical ideas for flashy displays of technique, Les Paul was responsible for key advances in musical recording techniques.

Karl Malden: a serious actor

By David Walsh, 3 July 2009

Malden first made his name in the New York theater as part of a generally left-wing group of writers, directors and performers and later enjoyed a long career in Hollywood extending from the postwar years to the early 1970s.

Letters on the death of Michael Jackson

30 June 2009

A selection or recent letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site on “Michael Jackson’s death.”

Michael Jackson’s death

By David Walsh, 27 June 2009

One greets the death of singer Michael Jackson at the age of 50 with genuine sadness, but without extraordinary surprise. Given the entire set of circumstances, it was not clear how his saga might end happily. Individuals who enjoy immense celebrity and success in America so often pay a terrible price.

Franklin Rosemont (1943-2009): Leading US surrealist and anthologist of André Breton dies

By Paul Bond, 25 April 2009

The death of Franklin Rosemont, American surrealist and populariser of the work of French poet André Breton, deserves some notice.

Edward Upward: An artistic vision at odds with his politics

By Paul Bond, 30 March 2009

British writer Edward Upward, who died last month, aged 105, was a remarkable figure.

Novelist John Updike dead at 76: Was he a “great novelist”?

By David Walsh, 29 January 2009

A major figure in American literature for the past half-century (his first full-length novel appeared in 1959), John Updike published more than 60 works—novels, collections of short stories, volumes of essays, art criticism and more.

Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer: Documentary on famed vocalist

By David Walsh and John Andrews, 27 January 2009

Robert Cavolina and Ian McCrudden’s documentary Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer, about singer Anita O’Day, whose career spanned more than 50 years, presents a picture of an extraordinary woman: tough, resilient and enormously gifted.

Harold Pinter: Independent and critical to the last

By Paul Bond, 5 January 2009

Pinter’s opposition to the war in Iraq was deeply embarrassing to the British ruling elite.

Jazz great Freddie Hubbard dies at 70

By John Andrews, 3 January 2009

Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard exploded onto the 1958 New York jazz scene at the age of 20. Over the next decade, he blew fiery “hard bop” with virtually all the greatest East Coast musicians and appeared on innumerable classic albums.

American painter Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008: Avant-garde to Pop

By Lee Parsons, 29 December 2008

Noted American artist Robert Rauschenberg died May 12 this year of heart failure at his home in Captiva, Florida at the age of 82. The passing of this influential artist obliges us to consider his work and the era during which he came to prominence.

Harold Pinter and Eartha Kitt, artists and opponents of imperialist war

27 December 2008

British playwright Harold Pinter died Wednesday at the age of 78, and American singer and actress Eartha Kitt died Christmas day, at 81. Both will be remembered as artists and as well for speaking out against imperialist war.

To the memory of Adrian Mitchell

By David Walsh, 24 December 2008

This is more of a personal response to the death of poet Adrian Mitchell December 20 than an informed, much less scholarly, commentary. My encounter with his works took place several decades ago.

Studs Terkel, American writer and documentarian, dead at 96

By Fred Mazelis, 17 December 2008

Studs Terkel, the American writer, oral historian and radio host who died on October 31, was a major figure in cultural and social history whose life spanned nearly a century.

The deaths of singers Miriam Makeba and Odetta

By D. Lencho, 13 December 2008

Two prominent vocal artists identified with the struggle against racial oppression—Miriam Makeba and Odetta—recently died within a few weeks of each other. They came of age and achieved fame in the 1950s and 1960s, decades of intense struggles.

Sydney Opera House architect, Jørn Utzon dies

By Paul Bartizan, 10 December 2008

Jørn Utzon, whose name is bound to his greatest, and perhaps one of the world’s best-known post-World War II pieces of architecture, the Sydney Opera House, died in his sleep aged 90 on Saturday, November 29.

Paul Newman (1925-2008)

By Hiram Lee, 1 October 2008

The death of actor Paul Newman on September 26, after a long battle with lung cancer, was followed by a flood of tributes and remembrances.

Ken Campbell (1941-2008): A unique theatrical talent

By Paul Bond, 11 September 2008

The death of the restlessly brilliant Ken Campbell, aged just 66, has robbed the theatre of one of its most inspiring talents. He was instantly recognisable: a short, bald man with increasingly unruly eyebrows, possessed of an extraordinary speaking voice, once compared to an exhaust pipe with a broken silencer. He did take some commercial television work in sitcoms and soap operas, and some small film parts, but his reputation was established on the basis of the singularity of his own theatrical vision.

Jerry Wexler, producer of Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, dead at 91

By Hiram Lee, 20 August 2008

Jerry Wexler, the legendary music producer of Atlantic Records, died of congestive heart failure on August 15 at his home in Sarasota, Florida. He was 91.

Social satirist George Carlin dead at 71

By David Walsh, 24 June 2008

American comedian George Carlin, an acerbic commentator on life and at times a sharp social satirist, died June 22 in Santa Monica, California at the age of 71. His was a critical voice in American public life.

American filmmaker Sydney Pollack (1934-2008)

By David Walsh, 30 May 2008

American director, producer and actor Sydney Pollack, best known for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), The Way We Were (1973), Three Days of the Condor (1973), Tootsie (1982) and Out of Africa (1985), died May 26 in Pacific Palisades, California of cancer at the age of 73. He had been more active—and perhaps more successful—in recent years as a producer (The Quiet American, Michael Clayton, Recount) and actor in film and television than a director.

Hugo Claus 1929-2008: “Each day we should wake up foaming at the mouth at the injustice of things”

By Paul Bond, 19 April 2008

Belgian author Hugo Claus, who died last month, was one of the most prolific and versatile of postwar European writers. From 1947, when he was just 18, he produced thousands of poems, some 20 novels, 18 books of short stories, film scripts, libretti, and around 60 plays, including translations into Dutch and adaptations from English, French, Greek, German and Spanish works. He also painted, and worked extensively in the dramatic arts as a director. He once said that had he grown up in a country with a tradition of cinema, he would probably have been a film director rather than a writer. Some of his works are available in English translations, including his most important novel, 1983’s The Sorrow of Belgium (Het Verdriet van België).

Charlton Heston and postwar American filmmaking

By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 18 April 2008

American film actor Charlton Heston died April 5 in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 84. In 2002, he announced publicly that he had been diagnosed with symptoms “consistent with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Richard Widmark (1914-2008)

By Hiram Lee, 8 April 2008

American actor Richard Widmark, a veteran of more than 70 films as well as numerous theater and radio productions, died March 24 at his Connecticut home after a long illness. He was 93. Widmark was a serious and talented performer and one of the few surviving members of a group of actors including John Garfield, Robert Mitchum, William Holden, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan and Sterling Hayden, all of whom emerged in the post-war period and were substantially shaped by the events of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Together they were responsible for some of the most engaging performances of the post-war American cinema.

Actor Paul Scofield (January 21, 1922-March 19, 2008): “I’m an actor because I’m good at it”

By Paul Bond, 3 April 2008

Any consideration of an actor’s legacy must ask: What impact did he or she have on the art and craft? What can younger artists learn from his or her life? Paul Scofield, who has died aged 86, leaves a body of work uncorrupted by anything extraneous. He remained uninterested in anything smacking of celebrity. He wrote no autobiography and appeared on no chat shows. He had little time for after-show parties, preferring to catch the train home to his family. He was a reluctant interviewee, and did not even attend the Oscar ceremony in person to accept his Best Actor award for A Man For All Seasons (1966).

Jules Dassin, victim of the anti-communist witch-hunt, dies at 96

By David Walsh, 3 April 2008

Film director Jules Dassin, who was blacklisted in Hollywood in the early 1950s and spent the rest of his life in Europe, died in Athens March 31 at the age of 96.

Heath Ledger dead at 28: a life tragically cut short

By Richard Phillips, 31 January 2008

The sudden death on January 22 in New York City of Australian actor Heath Ledger, best known for his role as Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, has seen an outpouring of heartfelt tributes by filmmakers, actors and movie fans around the world.

Obituary: Grace Paley and political culture

By Sandy English, 19 October 2007

Grace Paley, the American short-story writer and political activist, died on August 22, aged 84. She described the lives of ordinary New Yorkers in the postwar period more ably than almost any other writer of her generation. She wrote in an ironic tone that implied, at its best, that there were historical processes latent within the travails of daily life.

Drummer Max Roach dies: Last of the bebop pioneers

By John Andrews, 20 August 2007

On August 16, jazz lost one of its most admired and significant figures when drummer Max Roach died in New York City following a long illness. He was 83.

Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007): An appreciation and a lament

By Marty Jonas, 17 August 2007

With the coincidental deaths of film directors Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman on Monday, July 30, we note not just the passing of two great artists, but the passing on of a great generation of world cinema. The World Socialist Web Site has already covered the career of Antonioni; I will make some comments on the significance of Bergman.

Sustaining a humanist approach in the twentieth century: George Tabori (1914-2007)

By Stefan Steinberg, 30 July 2007

The Hungarian-born playwright George Tabori (born György Tábori) has died in Berlin, at the age of 93. He continued to work actively in theatre until the end and the head of the Berliner Ensemble theatre and Tabori’s last employer, Claus Peymann, was proud to describe his friend as the oldest active director in the world. A warm, friendly man who sought close collaboration with his co-workers and actors, Tabori was held in high esteem by many of those he had worked with over a period of decades.

Sustaining a humanist approach in the twentieth century: George Tabori (1914-2007)

By Stefan Steinberg, 30 July 2007

The Hungarian-born playwright George Tabori (born György Tábori) has died in Berlin, at the age of 93. He continued to work actively in theatre until the end and the head of the Berliner Ensemble theatre and Tabori’s last employer, Claus Peymann, was proud to describe his friend as the oldest active director in the world. A warm, friendly man who sought close collaboration with his co-workers and actors, Tabori was held in high esteem by many of those he had worked with over a period of decades.

Ousmane Sembène, major figure in African cinema, dead at 84

By Joanne Laurier, 13 June 2007

One of the pioneering figures in African cinema, the Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène, died over this past weekend in Dakar at the age of 84. Sembène authored numerous works of fiction and directed 10 feature films. At the time of the release on DVD of two of his earliest films, the WSWS posted the following article 17 January 2006 about his life and work.

Obituary: Kurt Vonnegut, satirist and pessimist

By Sandy English, 27 April 2007

The American writer Kurt Vonnegut died on April 11 at the age of 84 from injuries to his brain suffered during a fall several weeks earlier.

Shakespearean gravitas in political satire: British actor Ian Richardson dead at 72

By Paul Bond, 15 February 2007

Even actors of great versatility and range are sometimes remembered for one or two roles. Ian Richardson, who has died suddenly aged 72, is a case in point.

James Brown, one of the greats of post-war American popular music

By Richard Phillips, 17 January 2007

Last month saw the passing of James Brown, a giant of American rhythm and blues and a key initiator of the soul, funk and rap music genres. Brown was admitted to an Atlanta hospital on December 24 and died, aged 73, on Christmas morning from congestive heart failure caused by pneumonia.

Obituary: Naguib Mahfouz, novelist of Egypt and humanity

By Sandy English, 15 December 2006

“There are many kinds of heroes in ancient Arabic literature, all of them horsemen, knights. But a hero today would for me be one who adheres to a certain set of principles and stands by them in the face of opposition”—Naguib Mahfouz, Paris Review interview

Pianist Jay McShann, last of Kansas City’s jazz giants, dies at 90

By John Andrews, 12 December 2006

Pianist, singer and bandleader Jay McShann died Thursday, one month before his 91st birthday. Fittingly, he passed away in Kansas City, Missouri, his adopted hometown and one of the most significant incubators of modern jazz.

An appreciation of jazz singer Anita O’Day, 1919-2006

By John Andrews, 28 November 2006

Anita O’Day, one of the great vocalists in jazz history, passed away Thanksgiving Day in a West Los Angeles convalescent hospital at the age of 87. She left no survivors. Her death from cardiac arrest due to pneumonia was announced by her manager.

American filmmaker Robert Altman dead at 81

By David Walsh, 23 November 2006

Robert Altman, whose film and television directing career began in the 1950s, died in Los Angeles Monday at the age of 81. He had been battling cancer for at least 18 months. Altman, as he revealed when he accepted an honorary award at the 2006 Academy Awards ceremony, also underwent a heart transplant some time in the 1990s. He was one of the most interesting filmmakers of the post-studio era in Hollywood, responsible for such works as McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Nashville (1975), The Player (1992), Short Cuts (1993) and Gosford Park (2001).

Gillo Pontecorvo, Italian director of The Battle of Algiers, dead at 86

A 2004 interview with the WSWS

18 October 2006

Gillo Pontecorvo, the Italian filmmaker best known for directing Battle of Algiers (1966), died October 12 at a hospital in Rome at the age of 86. The cause of death was not immediately revealed, but the director had suffered a heart attack in recent months.

“To Each Time Its Art, to Art Its Freedom”

Modernist architect Harry Seidler dies in Australia

By Paul Bartizan, 20 June 2006

Australian architect Harry Seidler died March 9, aged 82, nearly a year after suffering a massive stroke, from which he never fully recovered. Seidler was an uncompromising, passionate and skilled architect who designed over 180 buildings in a career spanning more than half a century.

“America’s American”dreamer: poet Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

By Andrew Linder, 8 June 2006

Robert Creeley, the foremost surviving promoter and practitioner of the modernist poetics of William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound and Louis Zukofsky, died last year on March 30, his lungs giving out in a hospital in Odessa, Texas, of all places. The poet breathed his last after a three-hour drive through the arid planes of Big Bend country of the Texas panhandle, oil-boom towns, far from his beloved New England trees.