Thursday, 30 June 2011

Arthur Goldreich

Arthur Goldreich
Arthur Goldreich in 2005. ‘He could charm the birds out of the trees’. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian
In the midst of one of the tensest periods of the anti-apartheid struggle, a single-winged Cessna aircraft carrying two priests in dog collars took off from an airstrip in Swaziland and flew across South African territory to British Bechuanaland. The "clerics" stepped out to a rapturous welcome from the local African National Congress. The escape of the freedom fighter Arthur Goldreich while on remand in a Johannesburg prison had been accomplished.
Goldreich, who has died aged 81, was part of the underground leadership of the ANC's liberation army, Spear of the Nation, that was captured in a police raid on Liliesleaf farm, Rivonia, in July 1963. Goldreich was the tenant of the property and had been living a seemingly harmless existence with his teacher wife, Hazel, and two sons, Nicholas and Paul – horse riding in the countryside and holding a job as a designer for a Johannesburg department store. (He designed the sets for King Kong, the black musical that played in London in the early 1960s.) So integrated were the Goldreich family in the secret life of the farm that on one occasion, as the high command met to discuss tactics, five-year-old Paul was found crawling around under the table.
Living at the farm, too, in the early 1960s was "David", purportedly a domestic servant but otherwise known as Nelson Mandela, the guerrilla commander-in-chief. Mandela discussed tactics with Goldreich, explaining in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom (1994), that "Arthur had fought with the Palmach, the military wing of the Jewish National Movement in Palestine. He was knowledgable about guerrilla warfare and helped fill in many gaps in my understanding."
Mandela was already in prison by the time the raid on the farm took place, but was brought back to court and put on trial alongside others arrested that day. The following year, at the conclusion of what became known as the Rivonia trial, he and seven other defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Goldreich was born in Johannesburg, the son of a furniture dealer. The family moved to Pietersburg (now Polokwane) in the northern Transvaal. At his Afrikaans school, his German language teacher gave out Hitler Youth magazines for the class to read. Arthur wrote to the pro-British prime minister, Jan Smuts, demanding to be taught Hebrew. The wish was granted.
On leaving school, he enrolled as an architectural student in Johannesburg, but as a dedicated Zionist he gave up his studies in 1948 to fight in Israel's war of independence. The war coincided with the Afrikaner nationalist victory in the South African general election. Goldreich later said that he was driven by "the Holocaust and the struggle against British colonialism, but the Nats winning the election left me in no doubt about what I had to do".
He left Israel to study industrial design in London before returning home. He had married Hazel Berman, who was active in the Young Communist League. Goldreich, though still preoccupied with Zionism, was moving to the left, and joined the underground Communist party. As the ANC prepared to launch its armed struggle, the Goldreichs were persuaded to rent Liliesleaf as the headquarters of its high command. Goldreich was the ideal cover. "A flamboyant person," Mandela said of him, "he gave the farm a buoyant atmosphere."
After the police raid, the Goldreichs were held under the 90-day law at Marshall Square, Johannesburg's main police station, but discipline there was surprisingly lax. One day Johan Greeff, a teenaged policeman with no idea of the importance of his charges, was switched to overseeing the "political" cells. The detainees found him obliging. He would collect food and cigarettes, and on one occasion a pair of shoes and a new suit. Goldreich even persuaded the station commander to allow him out of the building, accompanied by Greeff, to visit his barber. "Arthur could charm the birds out of the trees," Hazel says, "and Greeff was easy meat."
Greeff was interested in fast cars, and had his eye on a Studebaker Lark. He agreed to facilitate their escape for 4,000 rand (then £2,000) in cash. One quiet Saturday night, he opened the inner and outer doors, then faked an injury. Goldreich and a civil rights lawyer, Harold Wolpe, made good their escape and, despite a furious nationwide manhunt, were smuggled into Swaziland, where they lay low in the home of a sympathetic Anglican priest before setting out for London.
Goldreich returned to Israel, becoming a professor at the Bezalel academy of arts and design, part of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He later spoke out firmly against the brutality and inhumanity imposed on the people of occupied Palestine. Hazel was released after three months, having refused to join the escapees because of concerns about her children. The couple later divorced and Goldreich remarried.
Greeff did not fare as well. He was arrested within the hour, before he was able to collect the bundle of notes from a go-between, Paul Joseph. He was sentenced to six years in prison, paroled after serving two years. Thirty years later, with apartheid ended, Joseph raised the matter of his payment. The escapees, as well as the ANC, said the debt should be settled. Goldreich said Greeff was "a kind man and paid a severe price. We owe him a lot." More than 40 years after the debt was incurred, it was at last settled when a courier arrived at Greeff's motor repair shop in the remote northern Cape to deliver an amount believed to be in the region of SAR110,000 (£10,000).
Goldreich is survived by Nicholas and Paul; by his children, Amos and Eden, from his marriage to Tamar, who predeceased him; and by five grandchildren.
• Arthur Joseph Goldreich, freedom fighter and artist, born 25 December 1929; died 24 May 2011

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Harry Redmond

King Kong (1933)
Redmond and his father integrated animatronics with live-action sequences on King Kong (1933). 
In the history of cinema, many children have followed their mothers or fathers into the film business, but few offspring pursued the path of a parent more slavishly than Harry Redmond Jr, who has died aged 101. Like a master craftsman, Harry Redmond Sr passed on the skills of his trade to his son, the trade being the creation of special effects for films. Most notably, they worked together on King Kong (1933), in which a giant gorilla captures an actor, Ann Darrow, played by the "scream queen" Fay Wray.
The Redmonds were important members of the King Kong technical team under the supervision of Willis O'Brien, the pioneer of model animation. Part of their job was to integrate the stop-motion models and animatronics into live-action sequences by means of back projection and travelling mattes. Although the model of the giant ape was only 18 inches high, Kong appeared to be about 24ft tall, looming especially large among the New York skyscrapers.
"Special effects" have existed in cinema since the Lumière brothers' The Demolition of a Wall (1895), although they were not named as such. The term dates from 1926, the year that Redmond Sr and his family moved from New York, where he ran Metropolitan Studios, to California to take up an invitation to join Warner Bros to work on the Douglas Fairbanks extravaganza Don Juan, the first feature to have sound effects and a full musical score. At the same time, 17-year-old Redmond Jr started in films, in the prop department at the new First National Pictures studio in Burbank, where his father was working.
Four years later, the younger Redmond had learned enough to work on special effects alongside his father on Allan Dwan's Changes (1931), a first world war drama starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Much of the film's challenge lay in the flying sequences, which were later superseded by those in Howard Hawks's Only Angels Have Wings (1939), to which the Redmonds contributed greatly.

Special effects artist Harry Redmond Jr Redmond's final credit was on the superior sci-fi series The Outer Limits.  
  They also helped create the extraordinary aerial sequences in the first Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical, Flying Down to Rio (1933), that featured about a dozen chorus girls dancing on the wings of a fleet of aeroplanes above Rio. At one stage, a girl falls off a wing but is caught on the wings of a plane swooping below. The film was made for RKO, the studio the Redmonds joined in 1932, where they brought their expertise to bear on some of their most memorable movies, above all King Kong, directed by Ernest B Schoedsack.
The Redmonds worked for the same director on The Son of Kong (1933), with a cute 24ft albino ape in the title role, and The Last Days of Pompeii (1935), for which they provided an impressive eruption of Mount Vesuvius. But by the mid-30s, Redmond Jr had already begun to carve out a career on his own as a freelance for various studios.
Among his first solo efforts were Frank Capra's Lost Horizon (1937), with its preliminary plane crash and the walk of the survivors across the snow-covered Himalayas towards Shangri-La. In the same year, while working on The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), for David O Selznick, Redmond met Dorothea Holt, who had just been made head of the art department of the same producer. They were married in 1940, and later worked together on three films. For one of these, The Bishop's Wife (1947), Redmond supplied Cary Grant, who plays an angel, with supernatural powers, able to get a typewriter to write a letter without being touched, a Christmas tree to be decorated in a trice, and a wine bottle to keep filling miraculously.
In The Stranger (1946), for Orson Welles, Redmond was technically responsible for the thrilling denouement played out in the clock tower when the villain (Welles) is impaled on the blade carried by a rotating figure. He also realised the opening sight gag in the Marx Brothers' A Night in Casablanca (1946) when Harpo, leaning against a wall, is asked by a policeman, "What do you think you're doing, holding up the building?" Harpo nods vigorously and then, as he walks away, the whole structure collapses.
In 1952, with Storm Over Tibet, into which footage from Lost Horizon was incorporated, Redmond began a long and fruitful working relationship with the Hungarian-born producer Ivan Tors. Like many sci-fi movies of the 50s, the two produced by Tors on which Redmond did the special effects were pervaded by cold war concerns, but that didn't spoil the mechanical fun. The Magnetic Monster (1953) tells of a new and highly dangerous radioactive element that draws energy from its surroundings, doubles its size regularly, and could throw the earth out of orbit, while the title role of Gog (1954) is played by a huge robot who is controlled by a thinking machine in a vast lab beneath the New Mexican desert.
Soon after, Tors and Redmond moved into television, with Science Fiction Theatre (1955-57) and Sea Hunt (1958-60), the latter distinguished by the extra-special underwater effects. The pair also co-produced Flipper (1963) and Daktari (1966). Redmond's final credit, before retiring from show business, was on the superior sci-fi series The Outer Limits (1963-64), which began with the warning: "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission."
Redmond, whose wife died in 2009, is survived by a son, Lee, and a daughter, Lynne.

• Harry Redmond Jr, special effects creator, born 15 October 1909; died 23 May 2011

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Simon Brint

Simon Brint and Rowland Rivron
Simon Brint, left, and Rowland Rivron as the comedy duo Raw Sex.

Simon Brint, who has taken his own life aged 60, was a composer and the musical interpreter for a generation of comedians. He was also half of the cult comedy duo Raw Sex, and a celebrated nonconformist. Although he was never particularly happy in the limelight, he was known to many through the music he composed, for television comedy – a long list of shows, including The Comic Strip Presents ..., French & Saunders, Bottom, Absolutely Fabulous, Alexei Sayle's Stuff, The Lenny Henry Show, The Ruby Wax Show, The Mary Whitehouse Experience and A Bit of Fry & Laurie; for the long-running drama series London's Burning and Monarch of the Glen; and even for Blue Peter, a reworking of the theme tune that was used on the show between 1989 and 1994.
It was while he was working regularly at the Blitz club in London in the late 1970s that Simon first encountered the drummer Rowland Rivron and the pianist Rod Melvin. Together they moved round the corner to the Raymond Revuebar to become the house band for the newly formed Comic Strip club in 1980. When that group of comedians started making TV series, Simon was the natural choice to create the music for them. He had a phenomenal gift for interpreting mood through music, and an innate sense of humour which never let the music intrude on any jokes. It was a difficult trick to pull off, but it suited his particular style of creativity, a magpie talent for collecting lots of references and making them into something entirely new that made you appreciate things in a different way.
It was a talent that lent itself readily to the pastiches he wrote for French & Saunders, and it was on Dawn and Jennifer's show that the unlikely duo Raw Sex was born. Simon and Rowland played father and son Ken and Duane Bishop, the fictional remnants of Ken Bishop's Nice Twelve, who had found themselves in reduced circumstances and changed their name to appeal to a younger market. With his hearing aid working intermittently, and his drug-crazed son trying his hardest to finish the show and get to the pub, Ken held steady through the madness – swinging through all the styles from Latin lounge to hip-hop, always delivering "rhythm, value for money and punctuality".
Raw Sex developed as an act in its own right outside French & Saunders, with additions such as Kathy Burke as Duane's girlfriend, and Jakko Jakszyk as Eddie the crazed jazz guitarist. They were totally absurd and brilliant. While Rowland was the more demonstrative character of the pair, it was Simon's creation that held the deeper magic for me.
Simon was born in High Ham, Somerset. His father, Stephen, was from a large working-class family, and had lied about his age to join the army. His mother, Anne Tracey Watts, was the daughter of a high court judge and a former English scholar at St Anne's College, Oxford. They met in Austria after the second world war, where they were both involved in repatriating former PoWs. When the family moved from south Wales to Kent, Simon, aged 15, decided to stay on alone in Wales, and moved into a B&B near his school. Ostensibly this was to allow him to complete his O-levels, but his band at the time, a very stylish R&B outfit called the Blue Imperials, were also doing very well. A year later, he followed the family to Hythe, where he and his friend, Doug Chandler, persuaded the headteacher at Harvey grammar to excuse them from PE because they were both "physical weaklings with towering intellects" and would be better used preparing for school concerts.
They used their time to visit record shops and to float in and out of various musical projects, most successfully combining a bizarre cover version of Ennio Morricone's theme from For a Few Dollars More with Granny Takes a Trip by the Purple Gang to create Granny Takes a Few Dollars More. Simon went on to study English literature at Reading University, where he cut an eccentric figure on a Bernini bicycle fitted with a small engine (he never learned to drive). He became the social secretary's chief arbiter of taste when deciding which bands to bring to the university.
Graduating in 1972, he drifted happily, working in the studio of the artist Anthony Benjamin; playing and recording with the singer and tightrope walker Hermine Demoriane; dressing elephants as mammoths for the 1981 film Quest for Fire; and prop-making – on one occasion, when delivering a prop for Ken Campbell's 1979 production of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at the ICA, he was stopped by a policeman who asked what he had in his bag – "the secret of life," he replied. One of his first film compositions, a series of tape loops, was for a documentary about modern surrealist artists, Chance, History, Art (1980). He also co-wrote, with his longterm collaborator Simon Wallace, the music for the Oscar-winning short A Shocking Accident (1982).
In his personal life, Simon was an exquisite minimalist, and lived in spaces that were always painted several barely perceptibly different shades of grey. But although everything looked clean and empty and ordered, all the cupboards were bursting with stuff, absolutely chock-full of multitrack tapes, gizmos and instruments and millions of bits of recording equipment – perhaps that is a metaphor for the man. But he did have rigorous taste, especially in music – the minute he detected anything mediocre in the emotional integrity of what he was listening to, he became disaffected. Tom Waits was loved, and then suddenly dumped for "trying too hard".
He was selective with his friendship, too, but if you became his friend, he was very loyal, very good company, very amusing. We did lots of tours together. There is usually a scramble to sit next to the most interesting and open person on a tour bus – and Simon was always that man. He was so civilised and convivial, knew things I never knew, and would introduce me to things I'd never heard or seen: Pina Bausch, Gillian Welch, the Holy Modal Rounders. And he could be deliciously cruel about stuff he didn't like. That wince that said ,"Oh really, it just won't do", and then the trademark flick of his collar.
In 2004, with his old friend David Campbell (the social secretary from his days at Reading), and under the umbrella of Action for Music, Simon started to help unacknowledged musicians in Kenya record their music and get a return for their work. He had an extraordinary ear for talent, and a lot of the bands he chose to help then are the leading musicians playing in Kenya today. In parallel, he worked on Makutano Junction – a TV soap reaching 12 million east African viewers and the region's biggest show – both as a composer, and a mentor to composers. This was all done from a sea container under an avocado tree in Nairobi that he had converted into a studio.
In 2003, Simon married Amanda Cockerton, and they moved back to Somerset. My daughter, Simon's goddaughter, once remarked: "Everything thing about Simon is grey, except Amanda." He was the gentlest, kindest man, with extraordinary taste and a sublime, quirky talent that he was never really confident of. He is survived by Amanda, and four brothers.

• Simon Tracey Brint, composer and comedian, born 26 September 1950; died 29 May 2011

Monday, 27 June 2011

Rosalyn Yalow

Rosalyn Yalow
Rosalyn Yalow transformed clinical medicine through the development of extremely sensitive methods of measuring concentrations of hormones.
Professor Rosalyn Yalow, who has died aged 89, transformed clinical medicine through the development of new and extremely sensitive methods of measuring concentrations of hormones, and other biologically active molecules, in the body. These techniques are known collectively as radioimmunoassay, or RIA. For this, and for her later development of such techniques in a wide spectrum of investigations, she won the Nobel prize for medicine and physiology in 1977.
The possibility of radioimmunoassay techniques, able to detect any substance down to a few parts in a hundred billion, first emerged in the early 1950s, as a theoretical offshoot of the experimental use of radio iodine in the investigation of human thyroid function and disease. Early work carried out by Yalow and Solomon Berson, at the Bronx Veterans Administration hospital (now the James J Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Centre), in New York, involved following a minute dose of injected iodine-131 during its concentration in the thyroid gland and during metabolism.
Such investigations had never before been possible. However, this method depended on the patient being given a radioactive substance; and its sensitivity was limited. Nevertheless, Yalow used the method experimentally to determine or confirm several basic factors, such as the volume of the body's blood compartments, the distribution and movement of serum components, and the volume of the space between cells.
This was new science – yet to Yalow, an aspiring nuclear physicist with rapidly growing expertise in physiology and medicine, and Berson, a medical clinician whose mathematics and physics eventually attained professorial level, it was not good enough. They sought an investigative method of far greater sensitivity, easier to handle in the laboratory and more acceptable to patients.
Theoretically, this could be done by exploiting the natural immune process, in which the body sees every protein as an "antigen", to which it responds by producing a specific "antibody". In the laboratory, the extent to which a small sample inhibits a particular antigen indicates the level of antibody in that sample. In turn, this can indicate the extent to which that antigen (which can range from natural hormones to drugs, chemicals, or almost any substance) is present in the sample. In the mid-1950s Yalow and Berson discovered that the blood sera of all patients who had been treated with insulin contained specific antibodies to insulin. Unfortunately, the prevailing wisdom at that time was that insulin was too small a molecule to produce an antibody, and when Yalow and Berson tried to publish their findings, their carefully constructed paper was rejected in 1955 by the US Journal of Clinical Investigation, while the cautious research journal Science asked them to refer to specific "immunoglobulins" rather than insulin "antibodies".
Yalow and Berson knew that they were right. They saw that specific antibodies were the key to techniques which could have huge value in endocrinology and other aspects of clinical medicine. They were infuriated that their years of investigation could be so casually rejected. This episode embittered Yalow for the rest of her life, but its immediate effect was to stimulate an increase in the scope and precision of her research to produce results which, in the end, nobody could refute.
Over 10 years, Yalow refined the radioactive and biochemical procedures into practical clinical methods, demonstrating on the way that – as had been suggested by the earlier results – many late-onset diabetics have a high blood-sugar level because their immune system renders them insensitive to the presence of their own insulin.
With Berson, Yalow extended the scope of RIA into the measurement of growth hormone, gastrin, parathyroid and a wide spectrum of other hormones and serum constituents which, with their individual triggering and controlling proteins, could for the first time be measured accurately from extremely small samples. By the end of this period of research, the technique and basis of RIA was being used in thousands of laboratories throughout the world, providing a platform for a revolution in clinical medicine.
In 1972, when their triumph was widely recognised and the world expected them to receive a fully justified Nobel prize, Berson died from a heart attack, at the age of only 53. Although Berson had already left to extend his own clinical studies, Yalow was shattered. The world believed that Berson, who generally presented their joint work at conferences, had led the research. Yalow realised that if her huge contribution were to be recognised, she would have to prove herself all over again. She embarked upon this task with awesome determination.
Naming her laboratory at the Bronx VA after Berson, and working with Eugene Straus, a young postgraduate physician, she opened up new areas of research in gastric hormones. She demonstrated that the same hormones exist in many different forms, that some have quite separate roles in different parts of the body and that one of these (cholecystokinin) controls appetite and hence obesity. She then pioneered the use of RIA in the detection of drugs, enzymes, and viral and bacterial antigens, eventually opening the way to the investigation of any substance of biological interest.
In 1976 Yalow won the coveted Lasker Medical Research award, which turned out to be the harbinger of her Nobel prize. When her Nobel dissertation was printed in Science, the medical world was embarrassed to find that she had included the text of the letter from the Journal of Clinical Investigation which, 22 years earlier, had rejected Yalow and Berson's discovery and identification of insulin antibodies.
Yalow worked on in her laboratory until 1987, holding professorships in New York at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She was, she said, glad to close the laboratory because "research is becoming grotesquely over-regulated and inhibited". She then embarked on a lecturing campaign aimed at encouraging the entry of women into science. As always she was aggressive, uncompromising and highly focused. These were the qualities that took her to the top in a man's world. "Women have to be better at it than men," she declared. Some described her as "excoriating and vitriolic" but, in reality, this was the stuff of adversity and of brilliant science.
Apart from a few years of postgraduate study at the University of Illinois, Yalow always lived and worked in New York. She was born Rosalyn Sussman of immigrant parents in the south Bronx. A child throughout the depression, angered by poverty and disease, she decided when she was 13 that she would study medicine and become a research scientist. She won a scholarship to Hunter College (a women's college now part of the City University of New York). Legend has it that, to keep his students attentive, her physics professor once declared he would make two mistakes in a long calculation. When he had finished, he asked if anyone had spotted them. "Yes," said Rosalyn, "but which two did you make deliberately? You made three!" To his dismay, she was right.
In spite of her brilliance, she found that being a woman, Jewish and poor made it almost impossible for her to study medicine. Her family could not afford fees and she craved absolute independence. She majored in nuclear physics, and decided to marry and have children as well as becoming a scientist. She knew the difficulties, yet was determined to overcome them.
In 1941, with many male physicists entering the armed services, she was offered an assistantship at the University of Illinois. There she met her future husband, Aaron Yalow (also a nuclear physicist), took a master's degree, realised that techniques of radioisotope tracers being used in plant biology might have much wider application, and took her doctorate under the great Maurice Goldhaber (later director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory).
When the Bronx VA hospital decided to set up a radioisotope laboratory in 1947, Goldhaber said that Yalow should organise and run it. She jumped at the opportunity to pioneer the science of medical physics and, over three decades, transformed the world of clinical medicine. While doing this she had two children and a full family life that fulfilled what she called the "earth mother" component of womanhood. As a scientist she was a tiger, a warrior. "The only difference between men and women in science is that the women have the babies," she said in later life. "This makes it more difficult for women in science, but should not be seen as a barrier, for it is merely another challenge to be overcome."
Her husband died in 1992. Yalow is survived by their son Benjamin and daughter Elanna, and two grandchildren.

Rosalyn Sussman Yalow, scientist, born 19 July 1921; died 30 May 2011

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Pauline Betz

    Pauline Betz
    Pauline Betz playing at Wimbledon in 1946.
    Pauline Betz, who has died aged 91, was a leading tennis player of the 1940s, winning five Grand Slam singles titles, including Wimbledon in 1946, the first time she competed in the tournament. But she was never able to defend the title. The next year she became the victim of one of the worst examples of ruthless pomposity by amateur officials in the days when "professional" in sport was a dirty word. Until the arrival of open tennis in 1968, anyone signing a contract with a professional promoter was immediately banned from all the world's great tournaments, such as Wimbledon and Roland Garros. But Betz was banned without even having signed a contract. In fact, it was only on the evidence of a letter written by a third party – Elwood Cooke, who was the husband of another player, Sarah Palfrey Cooke – inferring that Betz might want to turn pro that the United States Lawn Tennis Association banned one of the best players. "It was a crime," said Jack Kramer, the 1947 Wimbledon champion who went on to sign Betz to the tour he ran with Bobby Riggs, another Wimbledon titleholder, in the late 1940s. Kramer, who fought for open tennis throughout the next two decades while signing up leading players such as Lew Hoad and Rod Laver to feed his tour, was a huge admirer of Betz. "She was a terrific all-round talent," he said. "She was a bridge champion, a fine golfer and was great at ping pong. But, above all, she was easily the best athlete of any woman I saw play the game." Betz was born in Dayton, Ohio, and brought up in Los Angeles, where her mother was a PE teacher. She played in tennis tournaments across California in her teens, before studying economics on a scholarship at Rollins College, in Florida, graduating in 1943, a year after her first Grand Slam win. She was in five consecutive finals of the US championships at Forest Hills during the second world war, winning three of them. She won the title again in 1946, the same year she won Wimbledon without dropping a set, beating the great Louise Brough in the final 6-2, 6-4. That year she also reached the final at the French championships at Roland Garros, losing to Margaret Osborne duPont 7-5 in the third set. Soon after, Betz was afforded the rare honour of a Time magazine cover. "But I was still working as a waitress," she said in an interview in 2005. "It's just the way things were in those days." After her ban, Betz was approached by Kramer. He and Riggs were searching for a back-up attraction to the tour he and Pancho Segura were playing around the US. "It was getting to be a problem because I was beating Segoo all the time because he couldn't handle my serve," he said. "So we hit on the idea of signing Gussie Moran, who had made a huge splash wearing Ted Tinling's lace panties at Wimbledon. But we needed someone for her to play and Pauline was the obvious choice. However, we soon found we had landed ourselves with the same problem. Pauline was much too good for Gussie and you can't go on selling the public mis-matches." One night, when the tour had moved on to Philadelphia, Kramer and Riggs went to see Betz in her hotel room. Riggs put it to her straight. "Do you think you could do us a favour and twist an ankle?" he asked. She burst into tears when told the reason why, and still went on beating Moran until, finally, in Milwaukee, Gussie won a match. "Well, I hope you're satisfied now," Pauline yelled at Riggs, as she stormed off the court. In 1949 Betz married Bob Addie, a sports columnist for the Washington Post. Her life became a good deal more glamorous after turning pro. Not to be outdone by Gussie, she wore silver lamé shorts and shocking pink sweaters on tour and often appeared in the doubles in a zebra-striped outfit. She moved easily among the smart set and was frequently to be found at the Stork Club in New York in the company of Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and the heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey. In later decades Betz taught tennis in Maryland, where there is now a Pauline Betz Addie Tennis Centre at Bethesda. Her husband died in 1982. She is survived by five daughters, one of whom, Kim Addonizio, is a poet and novelist.   • Pauline May Betz, tennis player, born 6 August 1919; died 31 May 2011

Friday, 24 June 2011

Bob Block

Bob Block
Bob Block five years ago, when Rentaghost the Musical toured Britain. The original was voted 12th most popular children's TV programme

Although he was a successful writer of radio comedies for Arthur Askey, Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd, and television sitcoms starring Jimmy Clitheroe and Hattie Jacques, Bob Block, who has died aged 89, will be best remembered by those who grew up in the 1970s for the children's series he created – Pardon My Genie, Robert's Robots, Rentaghost and Grandad.
The first to capture the imaginations of adult viewers as well as the young audience at which it was aimed, Pardon My Genie (1972-73) featured a spirit (Hugh Paddick in the first series, Arthur White in the second) that appears when an old watering can is polished by Hal Adden (Ellis Jones), the shop assistant in an ironmonger's owned by Mr Cobbledick (Roy Barraclough). Much of the comedy derived from the fact that the 4,000-year-old genie's magic was as rusty as the can – and the programme was notable for its slapstick and farce.
That style was also a trademark of Rentaghost (1976-80), along with Block's inventiveness and wit, and cleverly constructed storylines and plot twists. It featured an agency renting out phantoms such as the Victorian fop Hubert Davenport (Michael Darbyshire), the medieval jester Timothy Claypole (Michael Staniforth), the Caledonian conjuror Hazel the McWitch (Molly Weir) and the hayfever-suffering Dutchwoman Nadia Popov (Sue Nicholls).
The ghosts had the ability to teleport by grabbing their noses between thumb and forefinger. However, their hamfisted attempts at running a taxi service and organising a highbrow concert and other activities invariably ended in failure.
The characters had also proved somewhat inept in Rentaghost's predecessor, Robert's Robots (1973-74), starring John Clive as an eccentric inventor, Robert Sommerby. He had a gift for building robots resembling and behaving like human beings, including the bad-tempered Eric (Nigel Pegram), who regarded actual humans as disgusting creatures with revolting habits, such as eating.
Clive Dunn's 1970 No 1 single Grandad gave Block the basis for a children's comedy series of the same name (1979-84). The Dad's Army star was seen as Charlie Quick, caretaker of a hall used by dancing and acting students.
Block was born in Plymouth, where his father was based in the navy. On leaving school, he became a mechanic in a garage, before joining the army as a fitter during the second world war and repairing vehicles in Normandy after the 1944 D-day landings. He also wrote sketches for troop shows.
After the war, Block worked as a mechanic in the fire service. He heard the comedian Derek Roy on the radio, and decided to submit some scripts. Soon, Block was contributing to Variety Bandbox, on which Roy was a regular performer before becoming its host. This led Block to work on another established radio show, The Starlight Hour. Then he contributed to Arthur's Inn (starring Askey, 1952) and the sitcom Life With the Lyons (1951-61), featuring the husband-and-wife team of Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels as parents raising a family – their real-life children, Barbara and Richard – with Weir playing their housekeeper, Aggie MacDonald. It also became a TV series (1955-60).
Block was soon writing exclusively for TV. He contributed to sitcoms such as Our House (1960-62), which included Hylda Baker and the Carry On stars Jacques, Charles Hawtrey, Bernard Bresslaw and Joan Sims among the property's residents, and That's My Boy (1963), with Clitheroe continuing his "naughty schoolboy" persona alongside Deryck Guyler. He also wrote the children's series Crackerjack! from 1966 to 1972 and contributed sketches to David Frost's series The Frost Report (1966-67) and Broaden Your Mind (1968‑69), a forerunner to The Goodies.
Block's children's programmes were partly inspired by a love of science fiction. His final creation, Galloping Galaxies! (1985-86), was set inside a spaceship, and featured the voice of Kenneth Williams as its computer, SID.
At the age of 65, Block decided to retire, and enjoyed swimming into his early 80s. Five years ago, the comedian Joe Pasquale wrote, produced and starred in Rentaghost the Musical, which toured Britain, following a poll in which the original was voted the 12th most popular children's TV programme. Block also licensed rights for a film version of Rentaghost that will reportedly star Russell Brand.
In 1941, Block married Madeline Gamblin. He is survived by her and their three children, Colin, Steve and Trish.

• Bob (Timothy Robert William) Block, writer, born 20 July 1921; died 17 April 2011

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Robin Vincent

robin vincent
Robin Vincent stood up to judges and bureaucrats with rational argument

Robin Vincent, who has died of cancer aged 67, was an unsung hero of the international justice movement. At the time it was faltering after 9/11, he stepped out of the genteel environs of the Lord Chancellor's Department into war-torn Sierra Leone, and not only set up an international court there, but made it work.
His achievement was such that the United Nations turned to him again, in desperate need of his expertise, to get the Lebanon Tribunal (dealing with the assassination in 2005 of the Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri) off the ground. Today, with the former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic arrested, the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi indicted, and a verdict imminent on the former Liberian president Charles Taylor, the principle of putting political and military leaders on trial for crimes against humanity seems accepted, but only because there is proof that it can work in practice. That proof owes much to Robin's managerial skill, belief in justice and sense of fair play.
Robin was Worcester-born and bred, a lifelong cricketer who went straight from school into the courts service, starting as a deputy clerk to the county justices. His rare ability to deal with the egos of lawyers and judges and run a courtroom, while juggling jurors and ushers and listing officials, was soon noticed and he advanced steadily to the chief clerkship of the crown court in Birmingham and then in Manchester.
The Lord Chancellor's Department then brought him in 1986 to London, where he headed several divisions (including judicial appointments) before leading the Court Service Agency from 1993 until 2001. It was then that the British Council realised that his unusual skill was exportable, and dispatched him to cities in Russia to train court administrators. Robin had found his mission – to bring justice to places where it had been absent for too long.
Bringing it to the aftermath of the war in Sierra Leone – one of the world's poorest nations – was one of the UN's biggest challenges. He helped to design a hybrid court which would sit not in the safety of The Hague but at the scene of the crime, with international judges and prosecutors working in tandem with Sierra Leone appointees. He became the registrar of the special court for war crimes, and from 2002 to 2006 he oversaw the building of its prison, its legal offices and its courtrooms in Freetown, and organised its trials and appeals, which have contributed to the development of international criminal law, notably on the illegality of recruiting child soldiers and the invalidity of amnesties for those chiefly responsible for crimes against humanity.
Freetown was still a hazardous place when the court began its work in December 2002, especially with the prevalence of malaria. Several bouts did not stop Robin. With his assistant Robert Thompson, he recruited and trained a team of officials and dealt calmly but cunningly with UN bureaucracy, local corruption and over-demanding judges. His work on the ground was interspersed with flights to New York to argue for resources to keep the court in business.
At one point he sent a list of essential demands direct to the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, threatening to resign if they were not met. "You shouldn't resign, old chap," said a visiting stuffed-shirt from London. "You won't get your 'k'." "I don't give a damn about my 'k'," replied Robin, "I only care about my court." Annan came through with the necessary resources, and in 2006 Robin was appointed CMG. He had been made CBE in 2001.
It was my privilege, as the court's first president, to work with Robin, most importantly to establish a defence office headed by a "principal defender", in order to correct the organisational bias in favour of the prosecutor that had been apparent at Nuremberg and in early tribunals in The Hague. This became a precedent for later courts. Robin also set up a successful programme to explain the court's work in schools and at public meetings throughout the country. Transparency was a feature of his management style. When the rebel leader Foday Sankoh died of natural causes in our prison, Robin's thorough and quickly published report into his death prevented conspiracy theories from taking hold.
Robin was a joy to work with, and (his staff attest) to work for. A humble man (except when sledging Australians over cricket), he stood up to judges and bureaucrats with rational argument against their claims of privilege or red tape. He was full of good humour and kindness, and sponsored an extraordinary local football team of limbless victims (mutilation had been a favourite rebel tactic). Asked the secret of his successful court management, he said: "A registrar should be like the referee at the football match which ends with the crowd asking 'where's the ref?' Because he did such a good job, they never noticed him."
Robin is survived by Hazel, his wife of 40 years, along with his two sons, Mark and Steven, and four grandchildren. Until his service abroad, he was a first team player with Stockport Georgians Cricket Club.

• Robin Anthony Vincent, legal manager, born 27 February 1944; died 12 June 201

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Badi Uzzaman

Badi Uzzaman
Badi Uzzaman performing in Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, 2004. 
The actor Badi Uzzaman, who has died from a lung infection aged 72, was perhaps best known for playing the patient in the hospital bed next to Michael Gambon in The Singing Detective (1985). The pair's camaraderie provided some of the lighter moments in Dennis Potter's TV series and showed off Uzzaman's talent for comedic roles. In their scenes together, Gambon (as Philip Marlow) and Uzzaman (as Ali) were shown to share an outsider status, Marlow due to his disfiguring skin condition and Ali due to his race.
Uzzaman again explored British attitudes toward race in Brothers in Trouble (1995), a film directed by Udayan Prasad and based on Abdullah Hussein's novel about the experiences of Pakistani illegal immigrants in Britain in the 1960s. Uzzaman himself was no stranger to the immigrant experience. He was born in Phulpur, in Azamgarh, India, and moved to Abbottabad in Pakistan. His father worked on the railways and the family relocated whenever he had a new posting, living variously in Quetta and Lahore. He graduated in English and Urdu from Government College, Abbottabad, in 1959.
He worked as a radio presenter until the launch, in 1964, of the state-owned television channel, PTV, where he began his acting career. His move to Britain came after he appeared in Salmaan Peerzada's 1984 film Maila. The film, ostensibly about a travelling fair, took a clear anti-martial law stance and fell foul of the military dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq. Uzzaman gained asylum in Britain as a political refugee and became a British citizen.
The next year, he appeared as a drug courier in My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), written by Hanif Kureishi. In 1987, he appeared in Prasad's Arena programme for the BBC about the work of writers from the Indian subcontinent. Prasad recalled that Uzzaman played the part of the Pakistani writer Ibn-e-Insha with great comedic relish. He collaborated again with Prasad on My Son the Fanatic (1997), again written by Kureishi.
Uzzaman gradually became a familiar face on TV, with credits including Coronation Street, The Bill, Inspector Morse, Casualty, Cracker and Torchwood. His roles were often limited to supporting parts such as shopkeepers, whom he played several times. His attitude to the smaller roles was that it was better to be working than not, and he brought the same enthusiasm to each role, big or small. He was also known for entertaining the cast and crew on set. His lifelong interest in palmistry, astrology and numerology ensured that he was always in demand for a reading in between takes, and the director Gurinder Chadha credited him with predicting accurately when and how she would meet her husband.
While the shopkeeper roles continued to come in – such as in Mad Cows (1999) and Kevin and Perry Go Large (2000) – Uzzaman also appeared in more serious projects which dealt with the 11 September attacks and the "war on terror". A small part in the film Yasmin (2004) led to the more substantial role of the father of Moazzam Begg, the British-born Pakistani who was held at Guantánamo Bay, in the play Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom (2004), at the Tricycle theatre in London. The production was critically acclaimed and transferred to the West End. Uzzaman, who also wrote an Urdu column in the Nation, a bilingual newspaper, later took a role in Mike Leigh's film Another Year (2010), before going back to Pakistan in semi-retirement.
He is survived by two brothers, Raqeeb and Khaleeq, and a sister, Khurshid.

• Mohammed Badi Uzzaman Azmi, actor, born 8 March 1939; died 14 June 2011

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

William Campbell

Campbell, right, with Kirk Douglas in Man Without a Star, 1955. 
The actor William Campbell, who has died aged 87, had a long and varied career in films and on television, finding recognition from his association with several low-budget horror pictures and with the TV sci-fi series Star Trek. However, although he had the hooded eyes and languid manner of Robert Mitchum and something of the laid-back anarchism of Jack Nicholson, entry into the major league of stardom eluded him.
Campbell was in the first series of Star Trek, in an episode entitled The Squire of Gothos (1967), in which he has a field day as General Trelane, a foppish, childish humanoid, swinging wildly from joviality to sulkiness to anger. In The Trouble With Tribbles (1967), in the second season, Campbell was equally impressive as Koloth, a bearded, bureaucratic Klingon, a character that he revived 27 years later, towards the end of his working life, in Blood Oath, in the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1994).
Born in Newark, New Jersey, he studied acting with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof at the latter's celebrated studio in New York, before serving in the Pacific with the US navy during the second world war. Campbell made his screen debut as a dockside character in The Breaking Point (1950), the second film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not, starring John Garfield. Sporting a "ducktail" haircut, fashionable in the 1950s, he would continue to give good support to big stars, often stealing a scene or two from them.
Among his early roles were as a nasty perjurer trying to help convict an innocent man defended by lawyer Spencer Tracy in The People Against O'Hara (1951); a cocky rookie baseball player giving his manager (Edward G Robinson) a few headaches, in Big Leaguer (1953); and a callow second officer riling an ageing pilot, John Wayne, in The High and the Mighty (1954). Wise guy Campbell and gruff old-timer William Demarest, at odds as Confederate prisoners, brought some comic relief to Escape from Fort Bravo (1953) before they are tracked down by cavalry officer William Holden; and the 32-year-old Campbell justified his co-starring credit in Man Without a Star (1955) by being convincing as a young drifter ("Don't call me kid") who latches on to cowboy Kirk Douglas.
In the same year, Campbell won his first leading role, in Cell 2455, Death Row, as Caryl Chessman, convicted of robbery, kidnapping and rape, the first criminal in the US to be sentenced to death without murdering anyone. Campbell as Chessman is riveting as he develops from a teenage hoodlum in reform school, to a ruthless thug in prison to a respected legal mind. Chessman, who was still fighting his sentence at the time, approved Campbell and the film, hoping it would help his case. However, he was executed five years later.
Following what was arguably his best film performance, Campbell got further starring roles in B-movies and supporting ones in A-movies. An example of the latter was the civil war drama Love Me Tender (1956), in which Elvis Presley made his screen debut. Campbell, who bore a resemblance to the king of rock'n'roll, played Presley's brother, and got to sing We're Gonna Move with him, although he was dubbed.
A few years later, Campbell signed for five pictures with the Z-movie mogul Roger Corman. Perhaps Corman was attracted by Campbell's portrayal of off-kilter types. In The Young Racers (1963), Campbell plays an arrogant and reckless Lotus driver who endangers his own life and those of his fellow drivers. At the climax, we discover that he is a sensitive and confused personality. In Corman's The Secret Invasion (1964), written by Campbell's screenwriting brother, R Wright Campbell, and predating The Dirty Dozen by three years, he was part of a crew of five convicts out to rescue an Italian general being held hostage by Nazis during the second world war.
Corman produced Francis Ford Coppola's first credited feature, Dementia 13 (1963), a horror quickie shot in Ireland, in which Campbell portrayed a taciturn sculptor suspected of beheading two people with an axe. Cashing in on his creepy persona, Campbell was a deranged artist trying to steal a Titian painting in Portrait in Terror (1965) and, more notoriously, in Blood Bath (aka Track of the Vampire, 1966), he stalks girls and kills them, by dropping them into boiling wax, and then paints them.
Campbell appeared in only two more features, as a cop questioning a schoolteacher (actually a psychopathic killer), played by Rock Hudson, in Roger Vadim's dire soft-core sex satire Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971) and an Italian gangster in the blaxploitation movie Black Gunn (1972), both of which might have convinced him to stick to television, where he had led a parallel career as guest star on almost all the main shows since 1951, though he only had one series in which he starred, Cannonball (in 39 episodes from 1958 to 1959), about long-distance truckers.
In 1952, Campbell married Judith Immoor, who later (after their divorce, in 1958) claimed to have had affairs with Frank Sinatra and John F Kennedy (from 1960 into his presidency). As Judith Exner (from her second marriage), she wrote a memoir, My Story, in 1977, on which the TV drama Power and Beauty (2002) was based, in which Campbell was portrayed by a Canadian actor, Grant Nickalls. "What mutual friends we had you could count on one hand," Campbell once commented. "How she ever met the president, I don't know."
Campbell is survived by his third wife, Tereza, whom he married in 1963.

• William Campbell, actor, born 30 October 1923; died 28 April 2011

Monday, 20 June 2011

Yelena Bonner

Yelena Bonner
Yelena Bonner addressing the European parliament during the award ceremony of the Sakharov Prize in 2008.

Now that the battles fought by the dissident movement and by the thousands of individuals who voiced their opposition to the Soviet state have been swallowed up by the larger events of history, only a few names will be recalled. Yelena Bonner's will be one of them. She and her husband, Andrei Sakharov, symbolised – within the Soviet Union and throughout the west – the strength and courage of those opposed to state socialism. Bonner, who has died aged 88, was often portrayed merely as the wife of the Soviet Union's most famous dissident scientist, but her history as an activist was as lengthy as her husband's. Her determination, organisational skills and often fiery temper consistently drew attention to human rights issues.
Sakharov and Bonner were a team, bound together by the conviction that freedom of conscience was a prerequisite of any civilised state and that east and west should move towards reconciliation. This conviction helped them survive the ordeals of surveillance, harassment, arrest and internal exile.
The two first met in the autumn of 1970 outside a courtroom in Kaluga, central Russia, where a scientist, Revolt Pimenov, and a puppet-theatre actor, Boris Vail, were on trial for distributing the samizdat human rights journal Chronicle of Current Events. Sakharov had already achieved worldwide attention for publishing his essay Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom, in the New York Times in 1968, but Bonner was the practical and already experienced organiser of the group – it was she who found rooms for both the defendants and the observers of the trial.
Like Sakharov, Bonner came from the Soviet elite. Unlike the brilliant physicist, who was recruited straight from university to the team that developed the Soviet Union's first hydrogen bomb and then became the youngest member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Bonner had seen the brutality behind Stalin's Soviet Union early on.
She was born in Merv (now Mary), a town in Turkmenistan, the eldest child of Bolshevik revolutionaries, who named her Lusia. Her father, Georgy Alikhanov, was first secretary of the Armenian central committee and her mother, Ruth Bonner, was a committed party activist. Yelena's earliest years were spent in Chita in the Soviet far east, where her father had been sent after a political falling out with Grigory Zinoviev, a leading member of the politburo. The family then moved to Leningrad, where they lived among the city's Bolshevik elite.
At one stage, they had a flat in a house where Sergei Kirov, secretary of the Leningrad party, also lived. In her second book of memoirs, Mothers and Daughters (1991), Bonner recalled being taken out by Kirov in his car and standing on the dais with him at an official demonstration. It was the murder of Kirov in 1934 that signalled the beginning of the Terror and Stalin's purge of the old Bolshevik cadres. By 1937 the family were living in Moscow, where, some time before the winter of 1938, during the first wave of the Terror, Bonner's father was arrested and shot.
Her mother was arrested as the wife of an enemy of the people and sentenced to 10 years in a labour camp. Bonner herself was taken to the "big house", the secret police headquarters in Leningrad, for questioning. She remained in Leningrad to be brought up by her grandmother. When she was eligible for her internal passport she discovered that her parents had failed to register her birth. Free to chose her own name, she picked her mother's surname and Yelena after the heroine of Turgenev's novel On the Eve.
When the Soviet Union was invaded in June 1941, Bonner volunteered for the Red Army's hospital trains, becoming head nurse. The after-effects of a shell attack that October, which left her temporarily blinded, led to her being invalided out of the medical corps in early 1945. She returned to Leningrad and in 1947 was accepted as a student at the city's medical institute. After graduating, she specialised in paediatrics. She met her first husband, Ivan Semyonov, at medical school and they had two children, Tanya and Alexei. In the 1950s Bonner spent six months working in Iraq for the Soviet ministry of health and contributed articles to medical newspapers, as well as to literary journals.
In 1965, after her first marriage had fallen apart, Bonner moved into her mother's flat in Moscow. Her upbringing had seemed conventional enough: childhood membership of the Komsomol, followed by an application for full party membership after her parents had been rehabilitated in 1954. However, the fate of her family and friends and her Jewish/Armenian parentage – which made her politically suspect to the authorities – encouraged Bonner in her scepticism of the officially presented party line. The crushing of the 1968 Prague uprising marked for her, as for many dissidents of her generation, the beginning of her questioning of the basis of the Soviet state. Gradually, she moved into dissident circles, although it was not until 1972 that she renounced her party membership.
Bonner and her mother introduced Sakharov to the wider dissident movement. As he wrote in his memoirs, it was she who "taught me to pay more attention to the defence of individual victims of injustice". Their flat became a clearing house for those involved in the Helsinki Group, the human rights group set up to monitor Soviet violations of the Helsinki Accords, and for groups fighting for the rights of Christians, ethnic minorities and of Soviet Jews who wanted to emigrate to Israel.
When Sakharov's children complained to him about his increasingly vocal opposition to the Soviet state, as well as about his friendship with Bonner so soon after his first wife's death from cancer, he moved into the Bonners' flat. He and Bonner married in 1972.
With Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1974, they became the central focus of the dissident movement. Sakharov went on his first hunger strike in 1974, during Richard Nixon's visit to Moscow, to publicise the plight of political prisoners.
That winter, Bonner's eyesight – already damaged by her wartime injury, thyroid problems and glaucoma – deteriorated sharply and she was warned that, without an operation available only in the west, she would go blind. While she was in Italy in 1975 recovering from the eye operation, Bonner heard of Sakharov being awarded a Nobel peace prize, and she remained in the west to attend the prizegiving ceremony and to deliver her husband's Nobel lecture that December.
The KGB had now resorted to sending the couple obscene pictures and photographs of dismembered corpses through the post, and accusing Bonner in particular of being a "money-grubbing Jew" who had married Sakharov for his privileged position. Despite such harassment, the couple continued to highlight the plight of political and religious dissenters in Leonid Brezhnev's stagnant Soviet state. Sakharov's position as a state scientist and Bonner's status as an Invalid Veteran of the Great Patriotic War prevented the KGB from attacking them too openly. But their friends and fellow human-rights activists were picked off the streets, given summary trials and exiled or imprisoned. The Sakharovs, both in poor health, remained at liberty to speak, write and give interviews to foreign correspondents. However, at the start of 1980, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Sakharov's open call for an international boycott of the Moscow Olympics led to his arrest.
Sakharov was stripped of his awards and exiled to Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) by decree. Bonner remained free to travel between Moscow and Gorky, give interviews and publicise her husband's plight. She was Sakharov's lifeline to the outside world. She was, as Sakharov put it, "always a doer" and refused to stop her activities because of her husband's arrest. But the strain immediately began to affect Bonner's health. Stripsearched on a train on her way back from Gorky in the winter of 1982 and left to find her way back to Moscow alone, she suffered her first heart attack the following spring and another more severe one a year later.
Then, in 1984, she too was arrested, charged with slandering the Soviet state, sentenced and exiled to Gorky. Bonner's health deteriorated further and Sakharov went on hunger strike on three occasions to demand that she be allowed to travel to the west for treatment. Finally, in 1986, she was allowed to travel abroad for heart surgery. She took with her a volume of memoirs of their internal exile, which appeared as Alone Together in the same year.
The release of Bonner and Sakharov from their exile came suddenly and unexpectedly. One day an engineer turned up at the flat in Gorky to install a telephone. The following morning they received their first telephone call. It was from Mikhail Gorbachev, telling them they were free to return to Moscow. Their release was one of the most tangible signs that glasnost had begun.
Although some of Gorbachev's policies seemed close to fufilling demands made by the dissidents of the 1970s, the Sakharovs continued to dissent from the official party line. They were instrumental in forming the unofficial organisation Memorial, set up to campaign for the rehabilitation of political prisoners. In 1989 Sakharov was elected to the Congress of People's Deputies and during its first session criticised Gorbachev for refusing to relinquish the Communist party's monopoly on power. On 14 December that year, after a particularly tense session of the congress, during which Gorbachev had demanded Sakharov sit down, he returned home and told his wife that he had work to prepare for the next day's session. In the morning she found him dead from a heart attack.
Bonner, grief-stricken, had to face Yevgeny Primakov, one of Gorbachev's aides, who wanted to give the former dissident a state funeral. She also had to endure the row that had erupted when the congress did not honour Sakharov with a day's recess. In distress, Bonner shouted to waiting reporters from the flat where her husband's corpse still lay: "You all worked hard to see that Andrei died sooner, by calling us from morning to night, and never leaving us to our life and work. Be human beings. Leave us alone."
When Gorbachev appeared at the funeral and asked her if there was anything he could do, she requested that Memorial should be registered as an official organisation. Many reformist politicians rushed to her side. Boris Yeltsin was not slow to show his support of her ideas, but Bonner distrusted politicians wanting to use Sakharov's memory for their own ends. In early 1991, when Gorbachev, also a Nobel peace prize winner, crushed a pro-independence demonstration in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, with force, she requested that Sakharov's name be removed from the list of laureates. Later the same year she spoke to the crowd outside the White House, the Russian parliament building, in support of Yeltsin during the abortive coup.
As the Soviet Union fell apart, Bonner continued working to support human rights and democracy. By 1996, she was calling for democrats not to vote for Yeltsin in the presidential elections; the war in Chechnya had dashed her hopes for him as a democratic leader. She became an outspoken critic of Yeltsin's successor Vladimir Putin, and last year was among the prominent signatories of a petition calling for his resignation.
Bonner divided her time latterly between Russia and Boston, Massachusetts, where her son and daughter, who survive her, had lived since the 1970s, and where she died.

• Yelena Georgievna Bonner, human rights activist, born 15 February 1923; died 18 June 2011

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Max Mathews

Max Mathews
Max Mathews at work at Bell Labs in 1981. A programming music language was named in his honour.

Max Mathews, who has died aged 84, wrote the first computer music program and influenced the conception of HAL 9000, the computer in Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the 1968 film, HAL gives a memorable rendering of an old song about a bicycle built for two. This was the result of a series of coincidences.
Mathews had been working on synthetic speech at AT&T's Bell Laboratories, in New Jersey, where a song entitled Daisy Bell had an obvious appeal. The researchers at Bell Labs used their IBM 704 computer and a vocoder (voice synthesiser) to sing it, with Mathews programming the musical accompaniment. Although this was serious research, the output was also used to entertain visitors, including Arthur C Clarke, who used the idea in his novel, and the screenplay, for 2001, in which the astronaut David Bowman shuts HAL down as it sings the song. The scene became part of cinema history and popular culture.
People had been using computers to play tunes for a few years, but Mathews was the first to write a computer music program. He said that "computer performance of music was born in 1957 when an IBM 704 played a 17-second composition on the Music I program, which I wrote". At the time, computers were too slow to play compositions in "real time". It took an hour to create 17 seconds of music. Mathews recorded it to tape and then speeded up the tape to play it back.
He wrote improved versions of his software, up to Music V, which he created "to give the musician the tools to make his own instruments". He also developed Groove, the first computer system for live performance, and Radio Baton, a system for controlling music in standard Midi (musical instrument digital interface) format. Radio Baton used two "wands", prefiguring the sort of controller now used with Nintendo Wii games. Later, Max, a widely used visual programming language for music, was named in his honour.
Mathews was born in Columbus, Nebraska, the son of college teachers. After graduating from high school, he joined the navy, where he trained as a radio technician. He gained a degree in electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology in 1950, and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1954. He joined Bell Labs, and served as director of its acoustical and behavioural research centre from 1962 to 1985.
While at Bell Labs, Mathews worked with a number of composers, including Edgard Varèse and John Cage, and in the 1970s he helped Pierre Boulez set up the avant-garde Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique in Paris. He also contributed short pieces to a Bell Labs record, Music from Mathematics, and to Decca's Voice of the Computer: New Musical Horizons.
His paper The Digital Computer As a Musical Instrument was published in the journal Science in 1963. He joined Stanford University's music department as professor of music (research) in 1987, and made San Francisco his home.
During a conference panel on the future of musical instruments at the SF MusicTech Summit in 2010, Mathews said: "When I first got some – I won't call it music – sounds out of a computer in 1957, they were pretty horrible. Almost all the sequence of samples – the sounds that you produce with a digital process – are either uninteresting, or disagreeable, or downright painful and dangerous. It's very hard to find beautiful timbres. A violin may be beautiful but it always will sound like a violin. The computer can sound like anything."
Mathews was a keen amateur violinist and developed a number of electric violins, including one made of sheet metal. One of his instruments appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine's "sex and music" issue in 1998.
Mathews is survived by his wife, Marjorie, their sons, Vernon, Guy and Boyd, and six grandchildren.

• Max Mathews, computer programmer, born 13 November 1926; died 21 April 2011

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Des Fallon

Des Fallon
Des Fallon’s work for bands such as Oasis, Take That, Kings of Leon and Coldplay thrilled millions and won a string of awards

The concert video director Des Fallon, who has died suddenly aged 40, was my best friend and colleague for 25 years. After a series of jobs in the technical video services industry a decade ago, Des became a director at XL Video UK. He played a leading role in the development of concert video, working with directors, lighting and set designers and major artists to put ideas into practice. His work for bands such as Depeche Mode, Oasis, Gorillaz, Take That, Kings of Leon and Coldplay thrilled millions and won a string of awards.
Des was easy to like. Take That's production manager coined the phrase "backstage rock star" for Des, a man who was the lifeblood of after-show parties (at one of which he insisted on explaining, unsuccessfully, to Jay-Z the difference between east and west coast rap). Once asked to name the most impressive piece of video technology to emerge over the years, Des replied: "Sky+".
Born in Shepherd's Bush, west London, where he spent most of his life, Des learned to smooth troubled waters from an early age, working on a market stall. "I sold dodgy suits to dodgy geezers. Some say there's been little change in my selling technique," he once said, with typical humility.
His career took off in the late 80s when we both landed jobs at the event equipment hire company SamCom, in Camden, advancing from loading bay muscle to event technicians (the fact that Des managed to electrocute himself regularly did nothing to dampen the high regard in which he was held by his colleagues). But his wideboy charm was tempered by a generosity of spirit and a deep vulnerability that he tried to conceal. He was an enthusiastic, compassionate and loving friend and father. He shared his passion for music with his daughter, Flossie, who became a seasoned concertgoer at a young age, and he had a knack of making life's waifs and strays feel like royalty. He also quietly used his roadie skills to help out at Crisis at Christmas.
Des is survived by Flossie and by his wife, Nik.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Jennifer Hocking

Jennifer Hocking View larger picture
Jennifer Hocking in London in 1954. A fortune teller had twice predicted her success.

When, in her 70s, Jennifer Hocking swanned through a 2002 Burberry advertising campaign shot by Mario Testino, sharing photospace with Kate Moss and company, and trumping them for cool, the New York Times called her a "grande dame of modelling". As a teenager, she had worn the first Dior "new look" styles to reach her native Australia. It amused her to show her 21st-century counterparts how to fill a black-and-white page with old-style choreography of wrist and elbow. Hocking has died aged 81 of cancer.
Born in Sydney, she went to art school, modelled and acted a little, then in 1952 sailed for Britain, borrowing the fare from her brother, after a fortune-teller twice predicted her successful future in London. There she met and married an actor and model, Nigel Howland, although hers was the more sustained career, at its most successful in the transitional era of the early 1960s, when there was a demand among upstart, unposh photographers for models who could project sophistication with a twist, drink and cigarette in hand.
The models supplied their own smokes, and were not ladies as their predecessors had been. Hocking looked like what she was, a grown woman with a job, perhaps a resourceful PA, when Brian Duffy posed her beside the novelist Frank Norman. Helmut Newton liked her, and along with the stylishly similar Paulene Stone, she was a reliable favourite of Terence Donovan and David Montgomery.
By the mid-60s, though, she realised that she was registering on camera not as too old, more as too adult, as teen models, freer with their knees than their elbows, began to dominate the business. She took a stylist's job – just an extension of models' obligations to provide their own accessories and do their own makeup – on a Fleetway magazine, simply called Fashion, and when that soon folded, was passed to the relaunched Harper's Bazaar as fashion editor, succeeding Molly Parkin. Hocking was in situ when Harper's merged in 1970 with its failing rival, Queen magazine, as Harper's & Queen.
Technically, that put her in charge of the gloss on the UK's second-shiniest magazine, although its fashion department was tiny. Despite increased pagination as H&Q began to invent modern luxury advertising, she had only a limited budget, and so when recruiting editorial assistants, merely looked for competent help.
She hired a well-connected, inexperienced 21-year-old, the "driven, determined and ambitious ... and very together" – Hocking's words – Anna Wintour, who impressed Hocking by lunching with business contacts rather than on a junior's usual sandwich at the desk. "She had this incredible brain, and I used to think it would be amazing to meet her when she was 35, because she was too mature for her age." She forgave Wintour her lack of a gift with words (Hocking never could spell, was always surer with an image than a paragraph) and encouraged her dedication.
Hocking was for much of the decade on the informal "committee" that adjudicated British fashion in the 1970s. She chose Missoni knits as her 1974 dress of the year for Bath Museum of Costume, making a shrewd, very long, bet on the Missonis' continuing technical innovation and influence; she dressed Joanna Lumley's Purdey for a few episodes of The New Avengers (Lumley had been a fellow Duffy bird).
But the eccentric, improvised atmosphere of H&Q evaporated mid-decade as the magazine tried to challenge Vogue for supremacy, and Hocking chose to leave. Wintour campaigned for the job, but it went to Min Hogg, while Hocking designed first for the mail-order clothes company of Christopher Carr Jones, then ran her own such company.
She began to model again in the 90s, at first for the older woman, Good Housekeeping, market – racehorse legs, white hair that could be back-combed into meringue, plus the old attitude. Testino had a crush on early-60s Englishness, the use of monochrome, the stress on relationships between models, and that was where he took his Burberry shoots, calling back as dress extras the elegant women who had bowed out circa 1966, including Tania Mallet and Hocking.
He understood that their body language, added to his rom-coms of crazy rich kids, could help to reposition the brand back among the toffs. Hocking, loving clothes, was always invigorated by the shoots. Her main complaint about the illness that blighted her last year was that it meant she had to give up wearing jeans, and so it "robbed me of my youth".
Her marriage ended in divorce. Her daughter, Wendy (who began as a model by sharing her mother's working wardrobe), and her son, Julian, survive her.

• Jennifer Hocking, model and fashion editor, born 4 October 1929; died 27 May 2011

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Lee Kemp

Lee Kemp
Lee Kemp, centre, with the Crippendales. 
One columnist declared them obscene
The actor, stripper and disabled rights campaigner Lee Kemp, who has died of cancer aged 39, would tell people proudly that he was born and bred on the Bransholme estate, in Hull, east Yorkshire, a close and forceful community. Lee would say that growing up with such firm local ties gave him the strength to overcome the partial paralysis he suffered in a motorbike accident in 1990.
After a year in hospital, Lee was able to live independently enough to go home to his partner, Vicky, and son, Stephen. He had appeared in various drama productions as a child and, determined to continue acting after his accident, he joined Hull College and completed a drama degree. After becoming runner-up in the 2005 Sexiest Man in Yorkshire competition, he decided to form the Crippendales, the world's first disabled strip troupe.
The group of five men with varying disabilities took their name from a joke told by the actor and comedian Mat Fraser. People had no idea how to react to the joke, let alone the strippers. I met Lee when I started to film them for a Channel 4 documentary. I remember furious people ringing a Radio 5 call-in show in the run up to the film's broadcast in 2007. One newspaper columnist declared the Crippendales obscene. Lee responded with grace, charm and humour. The critics usually changed their tune as he explained why he and the lads had the right to perform and why the sexuality was needed to make such a show worthwhile.
The troupe worked hard, often through great pain and always with the threat that someone would not get either the joke or the seriousness of their mission. Everyone was aware that in the wrong hands, their act could be a humiliation. With the help of the Adonis Cabaret and the London stripper Jo King, Lee's leadership and light touch got them through. The audiences loved it.
The film was part of the 2007 New York independent film festival, which Lee was invited to attend. It was the first time he had travelled so far and he was determined to have a ball. The reality of American life in a wheelchair became clear to us the night we arrived. His hotel room – advertised as accessible – was not. Access meant a doorman carrying him upstairs and a lavatory that had to be crawled to. We quickly learned that trying to hail a cab from a wheelchair in Manhattan was downright lethal. Lee left New York more appreciative of how far the UK had come and determined to keep it that way.
In 2003 Lee joined the Hull City FC supporters liaison committee. He pioneered the idea that disabled supporters should not be stuck in a special area, but should be able to be with friends and family across the stadium. If a disabled supporter had to attend with a carer, the price should not be prohibitive, he argued. Hull was one of the first clubs to make sure carers went in free or at concessionary rates.
In 2008 Lee fronted a campaign by the disability charity Scope aimed at strengthening disabled people's rights. He appeared on billboards and postcards and presented a petition to parliament. After the Crips, he had joined the modelling and actors agency VisABLE and a series of parts in adverts and TV shows followed.
There is a scene in the Crippendales documentary when Lee and his fellow performer James ("the Blind Man Buff") get nervous giggles before their first performance. Their laughter soon becomes hysterical. It is one of the most radical moments of the film. Disabled people are rarely seen on television laughing and enjoying themselves. But that was Lee's gift. He would change society one laugh at a time.
When he was told he had a few weeks left to live, Lee took a part in the Emmerdale TV soap opera, arranged his funeral and held a pre-death wake.
He is survived by Stephen; his parents, Sandra and Mally; and his siblings, Angie, Sonya, Joanne and Malcolm.

• Lee Kemp, actor, stripper and disabled rights campaigner, born 11 August 1972; died 13 April 2011

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Faye Treadwell

Faye Treadwell with the Drifters
Faye Treadwell, third from left, took the unusual step of moving the Drifters to England.
Since a New York R&B vocal group calling themselves the Drifters performed together for the first time in 1953, more than 60 singers have passed through their ranks. For many years, the task of keeping track of the majority of them fell to Faye Treadwell, who has died of breast cancer, aged 84. A formidable businesswoman, Treadwell inherited the job of managing the group from her husband and fought numerous legal battles in order to hang on to the rights to a name that became, in effect, a franchise.
In the 1960s, when the group's reputation was riding high with such hits as Save the Last Dance for Me and Under the Boardwalk, several outfits calling themselves the Drifters toured the US and Europe. One British promoter sent out an act called the Fabulous Drifters who were, in fact, a lesser-known group called the Invitations, happy to learn the necessary repertoire.
More recently, a New York entrepreneur specialised in claiming the rights to famous names, the Drifters among them, and creating new groups to fit the identity. It was such apparent abuses of what would now be called intellectual property that Treadwell spent much of her life attempting to counter. The confusion was intensified by complicated bloodlines which entitled some of the splinter groups to a moral share of the trademark.
Black vocal groups were particularly frequent victims of this form of counterfeiting, and others to suffer included the Coasters, the Temptations and the Isley Brothers. This was long before the contemporary popularity of "tribute" bands, happy to acknowledge and trade on their inauthenticity.
The tangled saga of the Drifters has its origins in the day in 1954 when their founding lead singer, Clyde McPhatter, sold his half-interest in the group's name to George Treadwell, a manager whose clients had included Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington. The Drifters had enjoyed hits with Money Honey and Such a Night, but McPhatter was intent on pursuing a solo career.
Johnny Moore joined the existing members, Bill Pinkney and the brothers Gerhart and Andrew Thrasher, all of whom were now, in effect, salaried employees, and the hits continued with Adorable and Ruby Baby. But disaffection at the low wages, combined with the effect of conscription into the services, led to further changes in personnel and a decline in the group's fortunes.
In 1957, George married Fayrene Johnson, the Arkansas-born daughter of a Baptist minister, whom he had met in Los Angeles. A year later, following a fight at the Apollo theatre in Harlem, New York, he fired the entire group and hired a new one, originally known as the Five Crowns, to fill their places. The lead singer, Ben E King, emulated McPhatter in bringing a distinctive voice to several of their biggest hits, including There Goes My Baby, which broke new ground by adding a string arrangement to an R&B record, and Save the Last Dance for Me. King's departure for a successful solo career two years later prefaced a further round of what would become an endless carousel of personnel changes followed by hits with Sweets for My Sweet, On Broadway and Up On the Roof.
When George died in 1967, Faye bought out his partners and took control of the group's fortunes. Pinkney had won a battle to lead a group under the name of the Original Drifters, but she managed to fight off other pretenders. In the early 1970s, their star having fallen out of sight in the US, she took the unusual step of moving the Drifters to England, where their hits – with Moore back as lead singer – included Kissing in the Back Row of the Movies. In 1993, during a brief return home, they performed for President Bill Clinton at the White House.
On her retirement in 2001, Treadwell moved back to Los Angeles. Five years later her daughter, Tina, licensed the group's name to a British entertainment company, but the court actions continued, most recently against the impresario Larry Marshak, who was found in contempt of court for ignoring an order to stop using the name.
Treadwell is survived by her mother, two sisters and her daughter.

• Fayrene Lavern Treadwell, music manager, born 5 September 1926; died 22 May 2011

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Terence Longdon

Terence Longdon
Terence Longdon in an episode of The Return of Sherlock Holmes, in 1986.

Terence Longdon, who has died of cancer aged 88, was a character actor whose parted hair and thick-set face – though not his name – were familiar for several decades. Only once did he step into the spotlight at the top of the bill, when he starred as the title character in the television series Garry Halliday (1959-62). The almost-forgotten BBC children's adventure programme, based on books by Justin Blake, perfectly fitted Longdon's educated, smooth, well-mannered persona – and a man who had flown with the Fleet Air Arm during the second world war. The actor played a Biggles-like commercial airline pilot, with Terence Alexander as his co-pilot, Bill Dodds. Posing a constant threat to the Halliday Charter Company was "The Voice", an arch-villain who sat behind a two-way mirror and shone a light into the faces of his gang members, keeping his own in darkness.
Longdon was then happy to return to the shadows himself, rejecting the chance to become a regular in the long-running Carry On comedy films. In the first, Carry On Sergeant (1958), he played a woman-chasing layabout among the bunch of reprobates that an army sergeant (played by William Hartnell) tries to turn into a champion platoon. After being cast in Carry On Nurse (1959), Carry On Constable (1960) and Carry On Regardless (1961), he was offered a contract. "I discussed it with my agent for hours but eventually decided to turn it down because I didn't want to be confined to one particular line of movies," he said.
He was born Hubert Tuelly Longdon in Newark, Nottinghamshire, where his father owned businesses connected with the wool industry. He boarded at Minster school, Southwell, where he excelled as a choral scholar. On leaving, aged 17, Longdon planned to sit an entrance exam for the civil service, but war intervened, the exam was cancelled and he worked as a bank clerk and in other jobs until joining the Fleet Air Arm in 1940, becoming a pilot protecting Atlantic convoys during hostilities.
Later in the war, he moved to a naval base near Blackpool and was cast in a show that was staged there. Douglas Hurn, an actor, spotted his potential and encouraged him to take it further. Longdon successfully auditioned for Rada (1946-48) and made his first TV appearance with a walk-on part when the BBC screened the drama school's live production of Stephen Phillips's play Paolo and Francesca (1947).
He then joined the Lyceum, Sheffield, as an assistant stage manager and made his theatrical debut there as Robin in French for Love (1948), a light comedy by Marguerite Steen and Derek Patmore. After three months, Longdon was heading for London's West End, taking up a contract with the theatre chain HM Tennent. He played a soldier carrying a spear for John Gielgud in Medea (Globe, 1948), then another Greek soldier, alongside Stanley Baker, and understudied Paul Scofield in Adventure Story (St James's, 1949), before progressing to the lead juvenile role of Philip Ryall in Treasure Hunt (Apollo, 1949).
Later West End roles included the plotting Peter Marriott in The Sound of Murder (Aldwych, 1959), the illicit lover Colin in The Sacred Flame (Duke of York's, 1967), more than 1,000 performances as John Brownlow in The Secretary Bird (Savoy, 1968-71) and Charles Straker in The Sack Race (Ambassadors, 1974). Longdon also consolidated his classical credentials during a three-year stint (1951-54) at the New Shakespeare Memorial theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, where his parts included Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part I, Oliver in As You Like It and Cassio in Othello.
By then, film roles were forthcoming and he became a staple of the B-movies that kept up the quota of domestically made productions in British cinemas. Many were war dramas, as was the main feature Angels One Five (1952), in which he played an RAF pilot. Then came the Carry On pictures and the roles of Patroclus, meeting an untimely death in a chariot, in Helen of Troy (1956), and Drusus in the epic Ben-Hur (1959).
Following his exposure in Garry Halliday, Longdon became more in demand on TV, taking character roles in the series No Hiding Place (1963), Danger Man (1964), The Avengers (1968), The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1986) and Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV (1986 and 1987). There was also a short run in Coronation Street (1982) as Wilf Stockwell, a sales rep and business associate of Mike Baldwin who briefly left his wife for Elsie Tanner.
Longdon's 1953 marriage to the actor Barbara Jefford was dissolved in 1960. He is survived by his second wife, Gillian Conyers, whom he married in 2004, after they had lived together for 16 years.

• Terence Longdon (Hubert Tuelly Longdon), actor, born 14 May 1922; died 23 April 2011