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Category: entrepreneurs

ATM inventor John Shepherd-Barron dies at 84

Atm John Shepherd-Barron, the Scotsman credited with inventing the world's first automated cash machine, has died after a short illness. He was 84.

Shepherd-Barron died peacefully in northern Scotland's Raigmore Hospital on Saturday, funeral director Alasdair Rhind said Wednesday.

Shepherd-Barron said once that he came up with the idea of the cash machines after being locked out of his bank. Plastic bank cards had not been invented yet, so Shepherd-Barron's machine used special checks that were matched with a personal identification number.

The first automated teller machine was installed at a bank in London in 1967.

More later at

-- Associated Press

Photo: NCR Corp.'s NCR SelfServ 28, a new breed of automated cash machine. John Shepherd-Barron is credited with inventing the first cash dispenser in 1967. Credit: Business Wire

Looking back at Alfred Shaheen


Next week the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is opening a retrospective of Shaheen textiles and clothing designed by Alfred Shaheen, a textile manufacturer specializing in aloha prints who died in Torrance in December 2008.

Shaheen, who revolutionized the textile industry in postwar Hawaii, designed a seemingly endless array of shirts, dresses, bathing suits and decorative items, many of which will be displayed in the museum exhibition. The show opens Tuesday and runs until Aug. 8. More information is at the museum website.

Click here to read the news obituary of Alfred Shaheen that appeared in The Times in January 2009. A photo gallery showing selections of his designs is here.

More information about Shaheen's life and work can be found at his website,

-- Claire Noland

Top photo: Alfred Shaheen designed the bright red Hawaiian shirt Elvis Presley wore when he posed for the cover of the "Blue Hawaii" soundtrack in 1961. Credit: Beyond Words Publishing Inc.

Bottom photo: Alfred Shaheen.

Max Palevsky, art collector and computer technology pioneer, dies at 85 [updated]


Max Palevsky, an immigrant's son who made a fortune in the early days of the computer industry, then used his millions to build notable art collections and finance liberal campaigns, including the late Tom Bradley's first successful bid for Los Angeles mayor, died Wednesday at his Beverly Hills home. He was 85.

The cause was heart failure, said his wife, Jodie Evans.

Palevsky was best known for selling Scientific Data Systems to Xerox in 1969 for $1 billion. He went on to serve as a director and chairman of Xerox's executive committee and later helped found Intel Corp.

He left the corporate world during the 1970s to produce movies, finance a then-struggling magazine called Rolling Stone and delve into politics.

He was an early supporter of George McGovern during his ill-fated 1972 presidential campaign, then ran Bradley's successful 1973 bid for mayor. He also was a major backer of Robert Kennedy and Jimmy Carter during their presidential bids, and various campaigns of former Gov. Gray Davis.

His open checkbook and activism led to his branding in the 1970s as one of the "Malibu Mafia," a loose alliance of extremely wealthy and well-connected Democrats that included television producer Norman Lear and philanthropist Stanley Sheinbaum.

In later years, Palevsky seemed to sour on politics and concentrated more of his attention on art. He built important collections of Arts and Crafts furniture and Japanese woodblock prints, which have been featured in shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Click here to read the full obituary.

-- Elaine Woo

Photo: Max Palevsky in 2005. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Malcolm McLaren: Svengali or superpro?

Punk2 McLaren: Svengali or superpro?

That was the headline in The Times on Jan. 25, 1983, in a profile of Malcolm McLaren written by former Times pop music writer Richard Cromelin, accompanied by this portrait of the music impresario at the Chateau Marmont.

By 1983 the Sex Pistols had been done for years, and McLaren had moved on to working with New York rappers. McLaren, whom Cromelin called "punk's chief propagandist" and a "self-styled subversive," had this to say about the Sex Pistols:

"The Sex Pistols created a tremendous amount of debris, and that was very rewarding. It's like a child who loves to destroy something in order to find out what it's made of. They were like a 5-year-old child -- smash everything. They did fantastic things by demystifying all the pop myth and pop packaging and the supremacy of a rock 'n' roll aristocracy who were basically just plundering black music.

"The problem with the Sex Pistols was that they just weren't able to construct something from the debris."

Click here to read the rest of the story as it appeared in the Times in 1983.

And click here to read the news obituary of McLaren.

-- Claire Noland

Photo: Malcolm McLaren at the Chateau Marmont in January 1983. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Malcolm McLaren, Sex Pistols manager and self-promoter of punk, dies at 64 [Updated]


Malcolm McLaren, who helped introduce the world to the Sex Pistols as the punk band's manager, died Thursday, his manager told the Associated Press. McLaren, 64, had been battling cancer. He and his former girlfriend, British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, also brought the punk look to the streets of London and around the globe.

McLaren got people to notice him, one way or the other. As Times pop music editor Randall Roberts notes at the Pop and Hiss blog, "When Johnny Rotten uttered the famous final words of the Pistols' career, 'Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?' he was directing his ire at McLaren."

A full obituary will appear later at

-- Claire Noland

Photo: During a 1978 news conference in Rio de Janeiro, Malcolm McLaren, manager of the British rock group the Sex Pistols, stands behind, from left, band member Steve Jones, actor James Jeter, band member Paul Cook and Great Train Robbery criminal Ronnie Biggs. Credit: Associated Press. [For the record, April 9, 11:35 a.m.: An earlier version of this post gave incorrect identifications for the people in the photo.]

Doggie Diner founder Al Ross dies at 93


Al Ross, the founder of a San Francisco Bay Area hot dog chain as famous for its giant fiberglass dachshund heads as for its food, died in Palm Springs of natural causes, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. He was 93.

A former amateur boxer who moved to Alameda, Calif., from the Bronx, Ross opened 30 Doggie Diners in the Bay Area, starting with one in Oakland in 1948.

In 1979, Ross sold the diners and eventually retired. The diners closed for good in 1986.

In 2000, fans of the doggie heads that rotated above the restaurants led a campaign to save the last surviving one. It received a $25,000 face-lift and was moved near San Francisco’s Ocean Beach.

-- Associated Press

Photo: A dachshund doggie, left over from the Doggie Diner chain, towers over the Carousel Diner in San Francisco in 1999. Credit: Associated Press

Joan Castle Joseff and her business sense

Joseff Joan Castle Joseff, the president of Joseff-Hollywood who died March 24 at 97, took over as head of the company founded by her husband, Eugene, after he died in a plane crash in 1948. The company was well-known in Hollywood at the time for designing, manufacturing and renting most of the costume jewelry used in the movies.  

Among the countless stars who wore the company's jewelry on screen were Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. 

For Joan Castle Joseff, who had joined the company in 1938 as a secretary, some stars stood out. Among them were Bette Davis and Hedy Lamarr, who were prone to ripping off all their clothes and jewelry at the end of long scenes. "It wrecked the strings of pearls," she recalled in a 1992 interview with The Independent of London.

She was equally unimpressed with the many stars who claimed they were allergic to any metal other than gold or who "forgot" to return the jewelry at the end of filming.

"I developed a pretty foolproof response to that in the end," she said in the 1992 interview. "I just used to send them a note saying I was thrilled they liked the pieces, and a bill for $50,000. It worked like a charm every time."

-- Dennis McLellan

Photo: Joan Castle Joseff shows some of her jewelry -- and Toute Petite, a toy French poodle --  in 1961. Credit: Los Angeles Times

L.A. modeling agent Nina Blanchard's rise to the top


Nina Blanchard, the founder of an internationally known Hollywood modeling agency who died Feb. 7 at age 81, borrowed $300 and a tiny office from a friend to launch the Nina Blanchard Agency in 1961. 

Most of the $300 was spent on a brochure featuring her models, which Blanchard mailed to photographers and advertisers.  But most of the few models she started with had no professional experience, Blanchard recalled in a 1986 interview with The Times, and she was in a panic when photographers soon began calling to book her models: "I thought, 'Oh, my God, they can't! These girls don't know what they're doing.'"

To buy time, Blanchard told the photographers that the models they wanted were unavailable.  

"Suddenly, the word was going around town that all my models were booked," she recalled with a laugh. "Then I started getting calls from other models, who said, 'We hear you're the hot new agent in town.' And they started coming to me."

One was top model Dolores Hawkins, who introduced Blanchard to Eileen Ford, whose New York modeling agency was deemed the largest in the country. "Eileen couldn't have been nicer," Blanchard said. "I would call her and ask, 'What do I do about this?' She gave me lots of advice. Then she started sending models to me here in California." Ford quickly became a close friend, and over the years many of Blanchard's models would work with Ford when they had New York assignments and vice versa.

By the 1980s, Blanchard's current and past models included well-known names such as Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Shari Belafonte, Rene Russo, Cristina Ferrare and Catherine Oxenberg.

The complete obituary of Nina Blanchard is here.

-- Dennis McLellan

Photo: Nina Blanchard in 1995, the year she sold her modeling agency to Eileen Ford. Credit: Carol Cheetham / For The Times

Marian Gore, cookery bookseller and cook. Persimmon pudding, anyone?

Gore pic The daughter of Marian L. Gore, a bookseller who specialized in tomes about food and wine and died at age 95, said her mother had been a “wonderful cook.”

Her mother’s “piece de resistance,” said Meredith Savery, was persimmon pudding. We couldn’t help but ask for the recipe.

Marian L. Gore’s Persimmon Pudding

There are many persimmon pudding recipes floating around, but they are all too fancy.  This is the simplest recipe I've seen and the best.

Beat one egg well in a bowl

Sift together and add 1 1/4 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Add mashed pulp of three large ripe persimmons, 3/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir until mixed.

Bake 1 hour or a little more at 300 degrees

Serve warm or cold with cream.

—Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: Marian L. Gore in 1974 with early California cookbooks.
Credit: Los Angeles Times

Paid obituaries, the new reality TV ads

Screen shot 2009-10-20 at 11.37.09 AM Since September, the local CBS affiliate in Saginaw, Mich., has been generating advertising revenue from a new source — obituaries.

When three of four daily newspapers in the region reduced publication to three days a week, station WNEM stepped in to fill the void, reports Advertising Age.

For $100, the station runs a photograph and name of the departed on the air, then publishes a more traditional paid obituary notice on So far, the station has more than 700 obituaries in its system.

The names of people who’ve passed away are broadcast during the station’s local morning and noon shows Monday through Friday, as well as on weekend morning shows.

Station owner Meredith Corp. plans to expand the concept to other TV stations.

Why not just skip TV altogether and post the obits exclusively online? According to an Ad Age source, the natural audience for such announcements — the elderly — are less likely to have access to a computer.

-- Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: Screen shot of the website taken Tuesday morning.

James C. Marsters Memorial


A memorial will be held for James C. Marsters, a Pasadena orthodontist who co-developed a teletypewriter that opened up phone use for the deaf, at 1 p.m. Oct. 25 at St. Clement's Episcopal Church, 2837 Claremont Blvd., Berkeley.

With a physicist and an engineer-businessman, Marsters helped create a modem in 1964 that linked a teletypewriter to traditional phone lines and converted audio tones into typed messages.  The accomplishment brought profound independence and dramatic social change to the deaf community, said Harry G. Lang, a professor at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, N.Y., who chronicled the feat in his 2000 book, "A Phone of Our Own."

Marsters, the last survivor of the trio of deaf innovators, died July 28 in Oakland after a short illness. He was 85.

-- Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: James C. Marsters, in his Pasadena home, reads a printout from a machine that operated using technology he helped create.


Tom Runyon, Ali MacGraw and the end of an era

Runyon Tom Runyon ran a restaurant-saloon called the Old Place in an Agoura canyon that was known for its ramshackle Western character, the Hollywood crowd who frequented it — and the character who ran it for 40 years with his wife.

Runyon, 89, died of cancer July 17 at his Malibu home.

Actress Ali MacGraw shared her memories of Runyon and the Old Place, which she frequented with Steve McQueen when they were a married couple in the 1970s. There was room in the story only for snippets of the colorful commentary by MacGraw, who now lives in Santa Fe.

Here’s most of what MacGraw had to say on July 29, 2009, about Runyon and a slice of life that she lamented as "long gone":

"It was such an important place. I loved the Runyons and Tom. Of course, I worked with him in 'The Getaway.' He was so remarkable. Steve and I went up there all the time when we lived in Trancas. Because it was just sort of 10 minutes up the canyon from where we lived.

"He had this most extraordinary collection of people — Robert Mitchum, Bob Dylan, Steve McQueen types and bikers.

"He was adored, and he was a total character.

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