Tuesday, 22 December 2015

In Memoriam: July 2015

1st July 2015 – Sir Nicholas Winton, 106

British humanitarian.

The following was originally written by the author in October 2012:

“Now, when I do something good, I tend to want praise. Mandy even has a stock “yes, dear” all ready for the most basic of achievements, like not burning the dinner. I think that’s human nature, with success comes recognition of success or achievement. It’s hard to blame people who do genuinely great deeds if they start bragging about those deeds.

This is where Nicholas Winton doesn’t come into the picture. For his good deed basically makes almost all other good deeds pale into consideration, and his response was to not mention it to anyone for fifty years, until it was discovered by others.

Now let’s travel to Christmas 1938 in our minds. It can be snowing if you like. It won't look as you recall your home town – the major cities and towns were all heavily built up over the course of the century, and naturally, a fair bit of rebuilding had to be done due to a slight incident during the early 1940s. A young Londoner of German-Jewish origin, who got a degree working part time at Stowe, and who until recently worked in a Berlin bank, is planning to travel to Switzerland for a skiing holiday. I wouldn’t blame him; he’s 29, its one of the few countries in Europe not on the brink of chaos, good trip if you can get it. If Winton had carried on his holiday as planned, we’d know him today as a 103 year old Briton, and little else.

Instead he travelled onto Czechoslovakia. Now, people probably know their history of the Czechs in 1938. The Munich Agreement, which left the defence of the Czechs resting on nothing more but Hitler’s smile. More can be said about appeasement, chess gambits and consequences of those in other places, however. Basically, Christmas 1938 Czechoslovakia stood on the brink of Nazi occupation, whilst the Chamberlain dolls sold out back in London. Involving himself with the British team working in Prague to help refugees, Winton noticed one issue off the bat.

“'The commission was dealing with the elderly and vulnerable and people in the camps kept telling me that nobody was doing anything for the children.”

Feeling something had to be done quickly about this, he set up an office. In the dining room of a nearby hotel. And so began Operation Kindertransport, an attempt to whisk away nearly 700 Jewish children at risk to safety in London, right under the noses of the Nazis.

As you can imagine, the logistics were no simple thing to overcome. Sir Samuel Hoare as Home Secretary had relaxed the rules on immigration to allow it, and several refugee groups working in the UK teamed together to find homes for every child smuggled over. The British government also leant on the Dutch government to allow the children to pass through the Netherlands, aided also by the sterling work of Truus Wijsmuller-Meijer (1896-1978), the wife of a Dutch banker who was Wintons train aide in Holland.

In the Washington federal archives, they found footage from 1939 of Nicholas Winton holding a child in his hands as the child's parents were leaving him at the railroad station. "It was this shot that was incredible," Minac says. "(Czechoslovakia) was already occupied by the Germans and (Winton) was rescuing these children behind the Gestapo's backs. And suddenly I see him on screen in action in Prague.
(Jewish News article quote, Mitaj Minac was director/writer of All My Loved Ones, a film based on the Kindertransport)

After the first few trains had successfully embarked their cargo in the UK, word spread swiftly, and hundreds of parents besieged Winton to take their children. He left for home, to be able to petition the Home Office to take in more refugees, but also to raise funds, both for the £50 bond fee needed per child, and for travel expenses for the poor kids. It also allowed him to organise the operation more thoroughly. In all, eight trains successfully brought children to the UK, saving the lives of 669 children.

Winton still regrets the ninth train however (which was scheduled to leave Prague on the 3rd September 1939, the day war broke out): 'Within hours of the announcement, the train disappeared. None of the 250 children on board was seen again. We had 250 families waiting at Liverpool Street that day in vain. If the train had been a day earlier, it would have come through. Not a single one of those children was heard of again, which is an awful feeling.'

The man, and all those who helped him in his actions, still saved the lives of 669 children, who would have probably been murdered alongside their families in the Holocaust to come. Some of the children grew up to become quite big in their fields: Alf Dubs for example, the former Labour MP who has served on the Mental Health Trust. Or Arno Allan Penzias, who immigrated to the US, and won the Nobel Physics Prize in 1978 for co-discovering “cosmic microwave background radiation.” They grew up to be not just Nobel Prize winners and MP activists, but writers, philosophers, philanthropists, parents, husbands and wives – the whole gamut of human existence. A vast array of life experience, some benefitting the entire of humanity, some benefitting their communities, all benefitting some, and their continued existence is all down to a small team of workers led by Nicholas Winton.

His Second World War was lived out first as a conscientious objector, then as worker for the Red Cross, then later as a swiftly promoted RAF man. He let his good deeds of 1938-39 pass from memory, and his role might have entirely been forgotten, but for his wife uncovering a box of letters from Czech parents in 1988. Now, when his wife confronted him about this – “Aha, you were actually a hero all along, but forgot to tell me!” or words to that effect – you would forgive our Nicholas for finally conceding his place in history. Not at all – he told her to bin the evidence! Winton is clearly not a man to bask in praise of a superhero’s job well done easily. Luckily for those who like to praise people who were bloody awesome, his wife sort of skipped on the binning the evidence bit, and instead handed it over to the Maxwell’s, who promoted it within an inch of their lives. 

A famous moment occurred on TV soon after, on That’s Life, when as an audience member, Nicholas Winton was shown his scrapbook found by his wife, and then over twenty of the children he had saved fifty years previously rose to applaud him.

His response since has been to play down his role in the operation, to call praise on the many others who helped, to reflect on those he was unable to save. (He said he was never in Prague station for example, which is disputed by footage in the Washington archive of him actually being there.) He won an MBE for his campaign for elderly assistance homes in 1983, and a wide ranging campaign got him one of the more deserved Knighthoods in recent memory in 2002. Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, statues dedicated to him in several countries, a small planet named after him. The deserved praise has come thick and fast. 

And yet, Winton refuses to gain an ego, he reflects on those he couldn’t save, or the work of others, and seems to genuinely believe he did what anyone else in his shoes would have done. 

Bollocks. The man can undersell himself, but we’re not going to. To save the life of one child is heroic enough. To personally involve yourself, when it is so easy not just to walk away, but to stay in Switzerland, and to save the lives of six hundred and sixty nine children, right from under the noses of one of the most murderous and evil regimes in history...

I’m almost speechless. We’ve not yet invented a word to describe the sheer brilliance of the act. And I’m beginning to sound like a Cracked article, but really... just an awe inspiring person. 

It is said that all that is necessary for evil to exist in the world is for good men to do nothing. Well, here we see the inverse. For acting when many others with far more power were too cautious, in a time of great fear and unknowing, Nicholas Winton and all who worked with him are brilliant people. 

“Winton became determined to at least help the children of some of the families. He started taking names, and found his room at the Europa hotel in Wenceslas Square was besieged by families, queuing all day in the freezing cold to get their names on the list. Winton and his colleagues, Doreen Warriner, organiser of the committee, and Trevor Chadwick, took photographs and details of the children and began to organise their evacuation. The first flight of 20 left in January 1939, sponsored by an organisation called the Barbican Mission, whose intention was to convert them to Christianity. Winton, who was not personally religious, saw his priority over the coming months as helping to get the children out rather than converting them, but he would subsequently brusquely ask rabbis who lobbied him whether they would prefer the children to be dead or alive. Winton...returned home to Hampstead each evening to organise permits and travel warrants for them to leave Prague and come to England. It was not a straightforward matter: the British bureaucracy was complacent and slow, believing there was no urgency as war was deemed unlikely, and the government demanded bonds of £50 – no small sum in those days – to sponsor the children. The arrangements were, nevertheless, better than those of countries such as the US and Australia, to whom Winton appealed in vain. “If America had only agreed to take them too, I could have saved at least 2,000 more,” he said.”
Stephen Bates, Guardian obit

“When the Nazis extended their control to the whole of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Winton became so desperate at Home Office delays in issuing entry papers that he resorted to forgery. In nine months of campaigning, he arranged for 669 children to get out on eight trains from Prague to London (a small group of 15 were flown out via Sweden). As the exhausted children arrived at Liverpool Street station to be collected by their English foster parents, Winton watched from a distance.  “Inside I was cheering like a football match, but outwardly I was calm and quiet,” he recalled. “I knew that for every Jewish child safely deposited on the platform that day, there were hundreds more still trapped in Czechoslovakia. And I knew that because I was organising this emigration entirely on my own, I wouldn’t be able to bring out a fraction of those in such terrible danger.”  The importance of the Kindertransports became clear after the war when it emerged that few of the children’s parents had survived. Those who owed their lives to Winton included the writer Vera Gissing (who went on to co-write Winton’s biography), Karel Reisz, the film-maker who directed The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Lord (Alf) Dubs, the Labour politician, and Dagmar Simova, cousin of the Czech-born former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.”
Telegraph obit

1st July 2015 – Val Doonican, 88

Easy listening singer who had a BBC show.

“In 1963 the impresario Val Parnell saw him at the Jack of Clubs in Soho and gave him a spot on the ITV variety show Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Doonican said that initial eight-minute slot changed his life and later observed: “It took me 17 years to be an overnight success.”He was often invited back on the show, and also offered a choice of recording contracts. During the boom years of the mid-60s, he had five top 10 hits: Walk Tall (1964), The Special Years (1965), Elusive Butterfly (1966), What Would I Be (1966) and If the Whole World Stopped Loving (1967). His TV show, The Val Doonican Show, which began in 1965, was the launchpad for other rising stars, including the comedian Dave Allen.”
Dennis Barker, Guardian obit

 3rd July 2015 – Diana Douglas, 92

Actress who appeared in Days of Our Lives, the long running US soap, and as Peg in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. She also appeared in Roots and Cold Case. Through marriage to Kirk, she was the mother of actor Michael Douglas.

4th July 2015 – Charles Winick, 92

Academic who specialised in drugs.

“His views on drug addiction provoked controversy. He said that opiates “are usually harmless, but they are taken under unsatisfactory conditions” (including malnutrition and infection), that most heroin addicts eventually outgrow their addiction, that many addicts with sufficient financial resources can function normally, and that those who cannot should be treated as patients with a chronic disease. Tackling the previously taboo topic of drug addiction among musicians, he organized a public forum at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1957, established a clinic to treat addicted musicians and participated in a discussion with Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and others that was transcribed and published in Playboy in 1960 as a precursor to the magazine’s interview feature. “The substances they imbibed,” he later wrote of the musicians, “may have been instrumental in liberating these artists mentally from preoccupation with their life circumstances and subsequently may have provided the opportunity for these artists to tap into their utmost level of creativity.” Professor Winick was also a pioneer in applying a sociologist’s tools to jury selection, advising lawyers on whom to choose or reject in murder cases against Jean Harris and Claus von Bülow and in First Amendment suits. He also advised a presidential commission that recommended in 1970 that criminal laws against pornography be abolished — a suggestion that President Richard Nixon rejected.”
Sam Roberts, NY Times obit

5th July 2015 – Sir Philip Goodheart, 89

Conservative MP for Beckenham for 1957 to 1992. He was an undersecretary of state for Northern Ireland from 1979 to 1981 under Thatcher. He wrote the history of the 1922 Committee,(the powerful Tory backbench clique) where as secretary he was instrumental in the downfall of  Ted Heath, and was a powerful advocate for the need for an EEC Referendum in the early 1970s.

“He was arguably the first MP to urge a referendum over Europe, holding one in his constituency in 1970 and voting against in the crucial division in 1972 because Heath would not. He went on to press for referenda on devolution, the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the Maastricht Treaty.  Goodhart was a fount of ideas, not always appreciated by the Tory leadership but often ahead of their time. He called for a sex offenders’ register as early as 1957, automatic train control after the Lewisham disaster in which several constituents perished, non-lethal gases for use by troops and counter-terrorist technology linked to identity cards (in 1975).”
Telegraph obit

 10th July 2015 – Omar Sharif, 83

Egyptian actor best known for his lead role in Dr Zhivago, and his Oscar nominated role as Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia. He won the Golden Globe for both performances. He was also in Night of the Generals, Mackenna’s Gold, and Gulliver’s Travels.

10th July 2015 – Roger Rees, 71

Actor who appeared in The West Wing, and in Cheers as Robin Colcordin. He was also the villain in Stop Or My Mum Will Shoot.

“The actor won a Tony and an Olivier Award for his role as Nicholas Nickleby in the 1982 Royal Shakespeare Company's production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. Rees played several well-known roles on U.S. TV shows, including British ambassador Lord John Marbury on The West Wing and the pretentious millionaire Robin Colcord on Cheers in the 1980s. On Broadway, Rees played Gomez in The Addams Family and most recently appeared as Anton Schell in The Visit.”
Mary Bowerman, USA Today obit

13th July 2015 – Satoru Iwata, 55

4th President of Nintendo.

“At Tokyo-based Nintendo affiliate HAL Laboratory during the 1980s and 90s, Iwata helped develop some of Nintendo’s most memorable games. That list includes Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, the opening salvo in a critically lauded and financially lucrative fighting series starring Nintendo characters like Mario and Donkey Kong that’s since sold in the tens of millions for the company. After he was promoted to president of HAL Laboratory in 1993, he continued to work personally on the company’s products, including several titles in Nintendo’s wildly popular Pokémon series.”
Matt Peckham, Why Nintendo President Satoru Iwata Mattered, Time Magazine July 13 2015

“At the dawn of the 21st century, everyone was dreaming of a future in which the whole world played videogames, but the conventional wisdom as to how we’d get there was quite different. Games, most people in the industry would tell you, would merge with Hollywood. Once the technology could handle it, we’d see games with the sweep and grandeur of motion pictures, and great directors like Steven Spielberg would produce lavish games that would make you cry, and that would be the tipping point that would push videogames beyond the 18-to-35 male demographic into the rest of the world. After all, everybody watches movies, right? So everyone would play a game that was like a movie.Satoru Iwata, who died of cancer on July 11, believed this would be gaming’s demise.  It was easy to dismiss Iwata's comments. “Games have come to a dead end,” he said in 2004, less than two years after succeeding Hiroshi Yamauchi as president of Nintendo. Like his predecessor, Iwata was utterly frank when he spoke. “The situation right now is that even if the developers work a hundred times harder, they can forget about selling a hundred times more units, since it’s difficult for them to even reach the status quo. It’s obvious that there’s no future to gaming if we continue to run on this principle that wastes time and energy.”
Chris Kohler, Thanks to Nintento’d Satoru Iwata, We’re All Gamers Now, Wired, July 16 2015

Iwata was in charge of Nintendo from the birth of the Gamecube right up to the modern Wii generation.

13th July 2015 – Martin Litchfield West, 77

Academic who specialised in Ancient Greek literature.

“He was an astonishingly prolific author, producing many books and articles, and numerous editions of Greek texts. His lifelong interest was in Greek poetry of the archaic and classical period, especially epic poetry, and his editions and commentaries (the first in 1966) on the Hesiodic Theogony and Works and Days remain the standard. He also edited Homer’s Iliad for the Teubner series of classical texts (1998 and 2001), published extensively on archaic lyric poetry and edited the iambic and elegiac poets in a text (Iambi et Elegi Graeci) which has become for many the definitive edition of the fragments.  His interest in the interaction between Greece and the East, already visible in his early work on Hesiod (as early as 1966 he observed that “Greek literature is a Near Eastern literature”) and in Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient (1971), found its fullest expression in The East Face of Helicon (1997), a remarkable achievement described by one reviewer as “one of the most important [books] in the last generation”. These cultural-historical and textual interests converged in The Orphic Poems in 1983.  But West was never a man to go with the flow and was comfortable with heterodox opinion. He was happy both to assert the primacy of Hesiod over Homer, a view which has not found many followers, and to downdate Homer by half a century (from late eighth to the seventh BC).”
Telegraph obit

14th July 2015 – Olaf Pooley, 101

Actor who appeared in both Doctor Who (Inferno, as Professor Stahlman) and Star Trek. He also appeared in Sink The Bismarck, Doomwatch and The Protectors.

“I think I was proud of my role as “Chorley Bannister” in Peace In Our Time by Noel Coward. He was the bad guy and of course a lot of the antagonists in any play are well written and have interesting lines and characters. I think I got under the skin of Chorley pretty well – certainly Noel Coward seemed to think so. Having the playwright available to comment is a great help. I also took over the Henry Fonda role in Reginald Rose’s great play Twelve Angry Men and had quite a success with that. It’s such a well-crafted play. Some of the more personal things I remember with great fondness, too…. I wrote and directed a screenplay for kids called The Johnstown Monster, which my second wife Gabrielle Beaumont produced and it was shot in Ireland. It was a success for Cannon Films and did pretty well. I also did a bit of guest directing for the London Drama Academies which, of course, produce some astonishing talent. The last thing I did was for RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and that was The Waltz of the Toreadors, the lead role being played by a young man called Anthony Hopkins. I knew even then that he was destined for great things.”
Olaf Pooley, 2015, to Star Trek.com

15th July 2015 – Aubrey Morris, 89

Long standing film, TV and stage actor. He appeared in The Saint, The Avengers, The Prisoner, A Clockwork Orange, The Wicker Man, and Reilly: Ace of Spaces. He had a memorable cameo in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as a space captain obsessed with his bath.

“Tynan’s review praising him was for his part in The Public Prosecutor, at the Arts theatre, London, in 1957; the critic felt that Morris and Alan Badel managed to “rescue the piece from boredom”. In Expresso Bongo at the Saville in 1958, Morris supported Paul Scofield; but, like most of the cast, was not in the subsequent film version. His Old Vic colleague Jeremy Brett once introduced Morris to Noël Coward as “the finest small-part player in London,” which, Coward replied, was a rather unfortunately phrased compliment. At the Gaiety theatre in Dublin in 1960, he played Justice Silence in Chimes at Midnight, Orson Welles’s adaptation of Henry IV and V; he later recalled Welles being as generous to his actors offstage as he was demanding on.”
Gavin Gaughan, Guardian obit

16th July 2015 – Sir Jack goody, 95

Prominent British anthropologist, known for pioneering work on kinship patterns.

“Goody saw his discipline as a form of comparative sociology based upon field observations, in which intensive research could be brought to bear on a wide range of social, cultural and psychological problems. In his first fieldwork, in northern Ghana, he analysed family relationships and the tensions associated with particular rules of property transfer at death.  He also took down to dictation a very long myth recited in the rites of the Bagre (an association found in various tribal groups in Ghana to which people belong in order to ward off disease), eventually publishing three volumes on differing versions of the myth. He came to view this as perhaps the most important task he had ever undertaken, giving permanent embodiment to a work of art and of religion that might otherwise have disappeared. Goody challenged the narrowness of an anthropological vision limited to local ethnography and non-literate societies. In particular he emphasised the importance of history, rejecting simplistic dichotomies of “the West versus the Rest”, between simple and complex societies, logical and prelogical thought. Though he “retired” from his chair in 1984, he remained based at St John’s College, and continued to write, to explore new themes, to carry out research and to lecture abroad.”
Telegraph obit

“From a social anthropologist who had carried out fieldwork in villages, he was turning into a historical sociologist or social historian concerned with what the American sociologist Charles Tilly called “big structures, large processes, huge comparisons”. Originally a specialist on Africa, he now focused on Eurasia. The red thread that bound his many achievements together was the idea of a “Bronze Age revolution” – the rise of advanced agriculture, cities and writing – put forward by the Australian Marxist archaeologist Gordon Childe, one of whose books Goody had discovered in the library of a German prison camp during the second world war. Goody devoted his professional life to working out the consequences of this Bronze Age revolution, in which Europe and Asia participated but Africa was largely left out. From the study of literacy he moved on to the investigation of cuisine – socially and culturally differentiated in Europe and Asia but not in Africa, as he pointed out in Cooking, Cuisine and Class (1982) – and “the culture of flowers”, contrasting the lack of interest in flowers in Africa with the enthusiasm shown for them from Britain to Japan, in The Culture of Flowers (1993)...His implied criticism of Eurocentrism became explicit in some of his later books, notably The Theft of History (2006), in which he undermined western claims to have invented democracy, capitalism and individualism.”
Peter Burke and Joe McDermott, Guardian obit

16th July 2015 – Alcides Ghiggia, 88

“There was only going to be one winner of the 1950 World Cup though. Brazil. The people knew it, the organisers knew it , the press knew it. Before the final had even been played, the newspapers wrote about how Brazil had become World Champions. It was seen as inevitable. Uruguay returned to the competition after a twenty year absence. They reached the final round, carrying on where they had left off. All Brazil had to do to win the World Cup was draw the final game against Uruguay, due to the slapdash vagary of the rules put in place. (The organisers had forgotten to organise a Final, but luck gave us one.)  Brazil had beaten the Swedish 7-1 and the Spanish 6-1 – what could Uruguay, who had struggled against both, hope to do? Carnivals were organised in Rio, an alleged actual attendance of 210 thousand Brazilians were in the national stadium, the Maracana, to see the expected trophy celebrations. “These are the World Champions” said the dailies, and the Mayor of Rio had conducted on field congratulations... before the kick off.”
Michael S. Collins, How the World Cup Changed the World

“A draw would still have been enough for Brazil, but the momentum had swung inexorably against them. Thirteen minutes later, Ghiggia again picked up the ball on the Uruguayan right. This time Bigode was closer to him, but isolated, so Ghiggia laid it back to Perez. Nerves forgotten, he held off Jair and slipped a return ball in behind Bigode. Ghiggia ran on, and with Moacyr Barbosa, the Brazilian goalkeeper, anticipating a cross, struck a bobbling shot in at the near post. The unthinkable had happened, and Uruguay, not Brazil, were world champions.”
Jonathan Wilson, Inverting the Pyramid

Uruguayan footballer who scored the winner in the 1950 World Cup final. This was most upsetting to the Brazilian hosts, who had already started celebrating their inevitable victory pre-match. A growing reputation certainly wasn’t harmed by this, and he later became a mainstay in the Roma midfield of the 1950s, before a short stay at AC Milan. His international career was shortened due to the domestic issues over in Uruguay.

“Back in Brazil to attend the World Cup last year he said: “People here love their football above all else. They don’t hold grudges. I feel very proud of being Uruguayan but I also respect Brazil a great deal. It’s a country full of joy, they welcome you with open arms so for me it’s beautiful to be here. After all, this is football – and people win and people lose and that event at Maracana was what it was. The Brazilians were sad at the time but they have won five World Cups since then so I’m happy for them.” Back in 1950 Uruguay opened their campaign by winning their first game 8-0 against Bolivia. Ghiggia scored the eighth goal, three minutes from the end in the Estadio Independencia in Belo Horizonte (which later proved England’s football graveyard against the United States).He scored in a 2-2 draw with Spain then again in a 3-2 win over Sweden. The subsequent winning goal in Maracana thus made him the first man to score in every possible match in finals (20 years before Brazil claimed the honour for Jairzinho in Mexico in 1970).”
Brian Glanville, World Soccer obit

You could claim that, in destroying the hopes of millions with one single shot, Ghiggia was massively responsible for the sea change in Brazilian football which followed, and how that went to influence the rest of the world, both in sporting and in cultural terms. Certainly, if a shot is going to be “heard round the world” and change things, I much prefer a football one, to the types Princip and Harvey Oswald committed!

Committing an act of great insecurity, the Brazilian FA decided to forgo tradition and not invite the oldest living World Cup winner to the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Cup. They still, sixty-four years on, had not forgiven him. Rumours that Ghiggia later raised a small smirk on watching Brazil’s 7-1 defeat to Germany, their worst result since Ghiggia’s goal, are undetermined at time of press!

“Only three people have been able to silence the Macarena: Sinatra, the Pope...and me!”
Alcides Ghiggia

17th July 2015 – Nova Pilbeam, 95

Actress who appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1934.

17th July 2015 – Rev. Owen Chadwick, 99

Historian who specialised in religious history. He was Master of Selwyn College from 1956 to 1983, and Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge from 1969 to 1971. As a student, he played international rugby for the British Lions.

“His range of publication was exceptional: he was a master of the large canvas – The Secularisation of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century (1976) or The Popes and European Revolution (1981); of the full-scale biography, such as those of Hensley Henson (1983), the stormy petrel of church politics, and of Michael Ramsey (1990); and of the cameo, as in Victorian Miniature (1960), his study of the fraught relationship between a 19th-century squire and parson, drawing on the papers of each, or as in Mackenzie’s Grave (1959), his wonderful story of the bishop sent to lead a mission up the Zambesi and whose disappearance brought out the best and the worst in Victorian Christianity and public life.In addition to his one textbook – The Pelican History of the Church: The Reformation (1964), the first book on many reading lists for a quarter of a century – he produced several books for a wider readership, including A History of Christianity (1995) and a short biography of John Henry Newman (1983), but few articles or reviews.”
John Morrill, Guardian obit

“Nor could they fault his prose style. For Chadwick was no dry-as-dust historian; he always preferred to tell a story to explore a situation or illustrate a point. The Victorian Church was enlivened by a wealth of vivid detail: Queen Victoria trying to slip a favourite preacher into a bishopric; a Dorset parishioner complaining that his astronomy-minded rector kept “a horoscope top o’ his house to look at the stares and sich”.  Although he wrote extensively on the relationship between the Christian denominations, Chadwick’s strength lay in his sympathetic understanding of the spiritual and social foundations of the Church of England.   He always wrote most warmly about the country clergy and, as he put it, their “reasonable, quiet, unpretentious, sober faith in God and way of worship”. The history of the English Church, he believed, was made not only by the decisions of the great at Lambeth or Westminster or in debates at Oxford, but by the convictions of obscure country parsons in Lincolnshire. Chadwick’s particular skill was his ability to evoke the atmosphere of parish life. For example in Victorian Miniature (1961) – considered by some to be his masterpiece – he provided a richly entertaining vignette of life in the Norfolk parish of Ketteringham and the uneasy relationship between the squire, an enlightened despot called Sir John Boileau, and parson, the Rev William Waite Andrew, a sort of Calvinistic Pooter who felt twinges of conscience about gardening.”
Telegraph obit

17th July 2015 – Jules Bianchi, 25

Formula 1 driver who died following a crash the previous year.

“Death in F1, once so commonplace, had not occurred as the result of a crash since Ayrton Senna, perhaps the greatest of all champions, died at Imola in 1994, on a weekend that claimed the life of another driver, the Austrian Roland Ratzenberger in his debut season. Senna’s death, like that of Jim Clark in 1968, was a reminder to lesser drivers that even the very finest were mortal in this most dangerous of environments. Since then the FIA, the sport’s governing body, has moved a long way towards eliminating serious accidents in Formula One, but there will always be crashes – and casualties – where competitors travel in close proximity to each other at speeds of 200mph. Bianchi may never have gone on to become one of the great champions, such as Ayrton Senna and Jim Clark or, in modern times, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, but he had been described as the “real deal” by those who had worked closely with him. He was fast and competitive, even driving for the smallest team in the paddock, Marussia, for whom he won their only points, at Monaco in May 2014 – two points that pushed the team up to ninth in the constructors’ championship. He regularly defeated his team-mate Max Chilton, the most reliable single barometer of a driver’s capabilities.”
Paul Weaver, Jules Bianchi: a popular F1 driver who was the “real deal” behind the wheel, Guardian 18 July 2015

18th July 2015 – Alex Rocco, 79

Actor who appeared in The Godfather, and was the voice of the Itchy and Scratchy tycoon Roger Meyers Jr in The Simpsons. He was the voice of Thorny in A Bug’s Life.

“ I get in an elevator, and it’s college kids, sometimes even high-school kids, and I get dialogue from The Godfather. That’s almost 40 years ago. But the other one I get is for playing JLo’s papa in The Wedding Planner. That was a big hit with the younger crowd. I don’t get much from The Facts Of Life unless they’re up there in age. [Laughs.] But it’s all good. I’ve been very blessed. I keep saying, “I should just retire,” and my wife says, “Oh, don’t be silly, just wait for a call.” And then sure enough, I still get calls, and I still go out. I’m thrilled. “
Alex Rocco, AV club interview 2012

19th July 2015 – Douglas S Cook, 56

Screenwriter who wrote The Rock and Double Jeopardy.

 20th July 2015 – Wayne Carson, 72

Country musician who wrote the song “Always on my Mind”.

20th July 2015 – Tom Beard, 50

Actor who appeared in Whitechapel, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and Wallander.

21st July 2015 – Dick Nanninga, 66

Dutch footballer who played for Roda JC, and scored the Dutch goal in the 1978 World Cup final. He had played over two hundred games for Roda JC.

21st July 2015 – EL Doctorow, 84

American SF author. His first book, Welcome to Hard Times, was published in 1960, and his last book published last year. He was best known for Ragtime.

“The author of a dozen novels, three volumes of short fiction and a stage drama, as well as essays and commentary on literature and politics, Mr. Doctorow was widely lauded for the originality, versatility and audacity of his imagination. Subtly subversive in his fiction — less so in his left-wing political writing — he consistently upended expectations with a cocktail of fiction and fact, remixed in book after book; with clever and substantive manipulations of popular genres like the Western and the detective story; and with his myriad storytelling strategies. Deploying, in different books, the unreliable narrator, the stream-of-consciousness narrator, the omniscient narrator and multiple narrators, Mr. Doctorow was one of contemporary fiction’s most restless experimenters.”
Bruce Weber, NY Times obit

21st July 2015 – Theodore Bikel, 91

Austrian actor who appeared in The African Queen and was known for the lead in the stage version of Fiddler on the Roof.

“He received an Oscar nomination for his 1958 portrayal of a Southern sheriff in “The Defiant Ones,” the acclaimed drama about two prison escapees, one black and one white. The following year, Bikel starred on Broadway as Capt. Georg von Trapp in the original 1959 production of “The Sound of Music.” But many viewers knew him best for his portrayal of Tevye in stage productions of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Although he did not appear in the original 1964 Broadway version or the 1971 film, he played Tevye more than 2,000 times on stage from 1967 onward. His latest film was a documentary about interpreting the work of Yiddish author and playwright Sholem Aleichem, who wrote “Fiddler on the Roof.” Among his film roles, he played the grumpy Soviet submarine captain in the Oscar-nominated 1966 Cold War comedy “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.” He played Kissinger in the TV movie “The Final Days.”
Mark Kennedy, Times of Israel obit

 22nd July 2015 – Natasha Parry, 84

Actress who appeared in Oh What a Lovely War and King Lear with Orson Welles.

23rd July 2015 – James L White, 67

Screen writer who wrote the script to Ray.

25th July 2015 – Robin Phillips, 73

British stage and TV actor who appeared in The Avengers, Doctor Who and David Copperfield.

29th July 2015 – Sir Peter O’Sullevan, 97

Horse racing commentator.

“In 1950, O’Sullevan left the Press Association to become racing correspondent of the Daily Express. Thus began the legendary partnership with the Old Etonian Graham, which had developed its roots in television, with Graham acting as O’Sullevan’s race-reader. Graham was to become BBC TV’s paddock commentator in a partnership that lasted for 25 years until his death in 1974. O’Sullevan soon earned a reputation for unearthing “dark horses” in his pre-season tours of French stables. His fluent grasp of French, acquired at school in Switzerland, gave him a head start over his journalistic rivals. It also enabled him to land some substantial ante-post betting coups on the frequent French winners of top British races. His successful betting enabled him to own several racehorses during this period, but here he was less successful. The first dozen that he owned failed to win a single race, and in 1960 he estimated that he had owned 21 horses, with only four modest “selling race” successes to show for his investment.”
Julian Wilson, Guardian obit

29th July 2015 – Ruth Newman, 113

Survivor of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

“The Associated Press said Ms Newman had lived on a ranch 70 miles north of the city and was there when the quake hit at 5.12am on April 18, 1906. Although the epicentre of the 7.8 magnitude quake was located in San Francisco, the violent shaking could be felt hundreds of miles away along the San Andreas fault. “She remembered being downstairs and her father picking her up and running out of the house,” Ms Dodds said. One of five children, Ms Newman was a strong-willed woman who drove and played golf into her mid-90s and who kept busy knitting, gardening and baking. “She was one who couldn’t sit down,” her daughter said.”
Andrew Buncombe, Independent obit

30th July 2015 – Lynn Anderson, 67

Singer known for the song “I Beg Your Pardon”.

30th July 2015 – Clifford Earl, 81

Actor who had several roles on TV including The Avengers, Dixon of Dock Green, and a role as Major Branwell in Doctor Who’s The Invasion.

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