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Lloyd Knibb, influential drummer with the Skatalites, dies at 80

 

Lloyd Knibb, an influential Jamaican drummer who played with the Skatalites and helped develop the ska beat, has died. He was 80.

Enid Knibb said her husband died of liver cancer Thursday. He had been receiving treatment in the U.S. but returned to Jamaica this week, she said.

Knibb was an original member of the Skatalites, a Jamaican ska and reggae band created in 1964. His frenetic style was one of the band's hallmarks and is best heard on songs including "Guns of Navarone" and "Freedom Sounds." The accompanying video is a live performance of "Guns of Navarone."

The Skatalites broke up in the 1960s, but reunited two decades later. Two of their albums, "Hip Bop Ska" and "Greetings from Skamania," were nominated for Grammy Awards in the 1990s.

Their music has influenced bands including the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and No Doubt.

Knibb last performed with the Skatalites in April.

"Knibb was simply the most important and influential modern drummer this country produced," said Herbie Miller, director of the Jamaica Music Museum. "A master percussionist, he contributed to every style of popular and not so popular musical form.... As a drummer, he established a rhythmic syntax through bold innovative advances."

-- Associated Press

 

Leo Kahn, who co-founded Staples, dies at 94

Leo Kahn, who co-founded Staples and helped start the age of "big box" retail stores, died Wednesday in Boston. He was 94.

Kahn first made his name in the grocery business in New England. He started Staples with a former competitor, Tom Stemberg, after they decided in 1985 to go into business together.

At the time, there were no office-supply superstores. Kahn and Stemberg toured different types of stores each Friday afternoon and one day during a trip to warehouse clubs, they noticed an abundance of office supplies on sale.

"I said to Leo, 'Let's do a Home Depot or Toys R Us for office products,' " Stemberg said. "He said, 'Let's go open a store.' "

Stemberg became chief executive and Kahn, in his late 60s at the time, chairman. They started the chain the next year with investments from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and investment firm Bain Capital.

While smaller rivals OfficeMax and Office Depot sprung up quickly, Staples has remained the largest and best performing office-supply retailer, with revenue of $24.55 billion and 1,900 stores at the end of 2010.

Kahn was born in Medford, Mass. He served in World War II and went to Harvard College, and Columbia University's School of Journalism.

At Staples, Stemberg said it was Kahn's idea to put merchandise that caters to the office manager — the person most likely to be out buying office supplies — at the front of the store to "make it fun to shop."

"He was always into the people side of things," Stemberg said. For example, he came up with the idea to have a meeting every month with all of Staples' employees to listen to their ideas.

"That vision survives today with 80,000 employees," said Stemberg. "That's Leo."

-- Associated Press

Bill Blackbeard: He was 'ahead of his time' in recognizing comic strips as American art

Bill Blackbeard When readers take the time to respond to an obituary, they often have a personal connection to the subject. Sometimes they end up writing an appreciation that is so heartfelt, I wish I could have read it before I wrote the story. So it is with the e-mail sent by Ray Polson of Los Olivos who reflected on the life of Bill Blackbeard, a newspaper scholar who died at 84:

I knew Bill Blackbeard well, as we were both in the newspaper comic field from the late '60s thru the '90s.  At the time, I was the largest dealer in newspaper comics in the U.S, a rather large title for a field that nobody cared about.  I met Bill at Bond St. Books in Hollywood through my then-partner, Steve Edrington.  Bill had just established the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art on Ulloa St. in S.F.  Bill had the MOST knowledge of comic strips ... and most forms of American period art on paper from the '20s thru the '60s of anyone that I had ever met.

Bill and I had many dealings, including my first large newspaper buy through my last, when he was preparing to move to Santa Cruz. He was way ahead of his time, recognizing comic strips as contemporary American art. People laughed at us at the time but in the end, Bill proved the critics wrong and paved the way for the field of newspaper art being collected and revered as what it really was and is -- fine artwork that was included in the price of a newspaper.

Not only did Bill love strips, he really loved his favorite strips: Popeye, Alley Oop, Polly and Her Pals, and the Yellow Kid, not to forget Krazy Kat. Nobody knew more about comics strips than he did. He was the "expert's expert" in the world of newspaper comics.
 
The world of comic collecting, which includes newspaper comic artwork, should take off its hat and say goodbye to the man who prided himself as being the guru of the newspaper strip and a true representative of his last last name. RIP Uncle Bill.

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Bill Blackbeard dies at 84; scholar of newspaper comics

-- Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: Bill Blackbeard, who grew up in Newport Beach, is shown in 1970 in the archives of his San Francisco Academy of Comic Art. Credit: Associated Press

 

Lidia Gueiler, Bolivian president between coups, dies at 89

Lidia 

Lidia Gueiler, the only woman ever to have been Bolivia's president, died Monday, her family announced in the capital of La Paz. She was 89.

Her grandson, Luis Eduardo Siles, confirmed her death in an interview with Fides radio. He didn't specify the cause but said she had been sick for weeks.

Gueiler was the second woman to lead a Latin American nation as president when she held the post for about eight months in 1979-80 between coup d'etats. Isabel Martinez de Peron, the third wife of Argentine leader Juan Peron, was that country's president in 1974-76.

In 1956, Gueiler became the first woman elected to the Bolivian legislature. As president of Congress, she followed Bolivia's constitutional line of succession and assumed the presidency in 1979 after a deadly popular revolt ousted coup leader Gen. Alberto Natusch Busch.

Gueiler called elections but no candidate won a majority to immediately become president as required by Bolivian law. Her cousin Gen. Luis Garcia Meza overthrew her 18 days after the vote, before a runoff could be held.

Garcia Meza's government lasted two years, during which it killed and imprisoned dozens of political opponents and cooperated with drug traffickers. Garcia Meza is imprisoned in Bolivia for human rights crimes.

Gueiler fled into exile after her ouster but returned from Chile in 1983.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Former Bolivian president Lidia Gueiler in a 2008 file photo. Credit: Martin Alipaz / European Pressphoto Agency

Australian Aboriginal boxer Lionel Rose dies at 62

Rose

Lionel Rose, 62, the first Australian Aborigine to win a world boxing title, died Sunday near Melbourne after being ill for several months, his family said. He had a stroke in 2007 that left him partially paralyzed.

Rose beat Japan's Masahiko "Fighting" Harada in Tokyo in February 1968 to win the world bantamweight title.

In December of that year at the Inglewood Forum, Rose was declared the victor in a split decision over Mexico's Chucho Castillo, and an unruly mob among the 15,287 spectators rioted and threw bottles and other debris into the ring.

Rose was named Australian of the year after his world title victory, becoming the first Aborigine to receive the honor. He also was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire and finished his career with 42 wins, 12 by knockout, in 53 fights.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Lionel Rose in 1968. Credit: Associated Press

Gunter Sachs, German photographer who was married to Brigitte Bardot in '60s, commits suicide [Updated]

Gunter 
Gunter Sachs, a German-born photographer known for his playboy lifestyle and brief marriage to Brigitte Bardot, committed suicide in Switzerland. He was 78.

[Updated at 11:03 a.m.: In a statement released Sunday by his family at his request, Sachs said he chose to end his life after concluding that he was suffering from an incurable degenerative disease affecting his memory and ability to communicate.

"I have always stood up to big challenges," the statement said. It provided no details on the timing or circumstances of his death, but German weekly Focus reported that Sachs shot himself Saturday at his home in the exclusive Swiss Alpine resort of Gstaad.]

Sachs was born in 1932 into the wealthy industrialist family behind the Opel auto line. He used his inheritance to fund a glamorous lifestyle that fascinated many in postwar Germany. He also made a name for himself as a photographer and documentary filmmaker.

German tabloids reported extensively on his affairs with film stars and friendships with artists such as Andy Warhol. He was married to Bardot from 1966 to 1969.

Sachs is survived by his third wife, Mirja Larsson, and their sons, Christian and Alexander, and son Rolf from his first marriage.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Brigitte Bardot and Gunter Sachs in Tahiti in 1966. Credit: AFP / Getty Images

Tony-winning playwright Arthur Laurents dies in New York

ArthurLaurents Arthur Laurents, a Tony Award-winning playwright and director who wrote the books for the classic Broadway musicals "West Side Story" and "Gypsy" and later wrote the hit movies "The Way We Were" and "The Turning Point," died Thursday. He was believed to be 93.

Laurents died in his sleep at his home in New York City after a short illness, said his agent, Jonathan Lomma.

For his work on Broadway over more than six decades, Laurents won two Tony Awards — in 1968 as author of the book for best musical Tony winner "Hallelujah, Baby!" and in 1984 as best director of a musical for "La Cage aux Folles."

But he is best known for writing the books for "West Side Story" and "Gypsy," both of which were Tony Award nominees for best musical and later were turned into movies.

"West Side Story," with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, was directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. The contemporary Romeo and Juliet love story involving rival New York street gangs ran on Broadway from 1957 to 1959.

It was followed by the Robbins-directed "Gypsy," with music by Jule Styne  and lyrics by Sondheim. "A musical fable suggested by" stripper Gypsy Rose Lee's memoir and focusing on her driven, larger-than-life mother, Rose, played by Ethel Merman, "Gypsy" ran on Broadway from 1959 to 1961.

The complete Arthur Laurents obituary is here.

-- Dennis McLellan

Photo: Arthur Laurents holding his screenplay for the Alfred Hitchcock film "Rope," an image taken from Laurents' memoir "Original Story."

Claude Choules, Australian World War I veteran, dies at 110

 

Choules300_lkpm3lnc Claude Stanley Choules, the last known combat veteran of World War I, died Thursday at a nursing home in the Western Australia city of Perth, his family said. He was 110.

"We all loved him," his 84-year-old daughter Daphne Edinger said. "It's going to be sad to think of him not being here any longer, but that's the way things go."

Beloved for his wry sense of humor and humble nature, the British-born Choules — nicknamed "Chuckles" by his comrades in the Australian Navy — never liked to fuss over his achievements, which included a 41-year military career and the publication of his first book at the age of 108.

He usually told the curious that the secret to a long life was simply to "keep breathing." Sometimes, he chalked up his longevity to cod liver oil. But his children say in his heart, he believed it was the love of his family that kept him going for so many years.

"His family was the most important thing in his life," another daughter, Anne Pow, said in 2010. "It was a good way to grow up, you know. Very reassuring."

Choules and another Briton, Florence Green, became the last known surviving World War I service members after the death of American Frank Buckles in February, according to the Order of the First World War, a U.S.-based group that tracks veterans.

Choules was the last known surviving combatant of the war. Green, who turned 110 in February, served as a waitress in the Women's Royal Air Force.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Claude Choules at Gracewood Retirement Village in Perth on Nov. 11, 2009. Credit: Reuters

Former child actor Jackie Cooper dies at 88



Cooper Jackie Cooper, whose tousled blond hair, pouty lower lip and ability to cry on camera helped make him one of the top child stars of the 1930s in films including "Skippy" and "The Champ," died Tuesday, his agent Ron Leif confirmed.

 Cooper grew up to become a successful TV star in the 1950s, a top television studio executive in the '60s and an Emmy Award-winning director in the '70s. He was 88.

A former "Our Gang" cast member who began his  Hollywood career as an extra in silent movies at age 3, Cooper shot to stardom at 8 playing the title role in "Skippy," the 1931 film based on a popular comic strip about a health inspector's son and his ragamuffin pal, Sooky.

The film, in which Cooper had three signature crying scenes, earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor in a leading role. Lionel Barrymore won the Oscar that year.

Read the complete Jackie Cooper obituary here.

-- Dennis McLellan

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Photo: Jackie Cooper. Credit: Associated Press

Yvette Vickers: The B-movie actress really was 82. Here's how we figured it out.

VickersWhen I first started writing about Yvette Vickers, who died a sad death alone in her Benedict Canyon home, I thought she was 74, based on at least five references that agreed on the year she was born: 1936.

My colleague Andrew Blankstein, who spoke with police and neighbors about the unusual circumstances of her death, posted a blog item that gave her age as 82. His sources: Police and a neighbor, he told me, “who said she talked to the husband, who said 82.”

Except there wasn’t a husband when Vickers, a B-movie actress, died some time in the last year.

Actresses, more than anyone I write about, “prevaricate” about their age. Running down the real birth year can be elusive, but I’ve successfully turned to passenger logs from long-ago ship voyages and the 1930 census to nail down a date.

In Vickers’ case, Times librarian Kent Coloma came through, the second time around. Earlier in the day he said voter registration records listed 1939 as her birth year. That didn’t agree with any research, but it was a clue that Vickers may have treated her age as an elastic number.

Coloma took another crack at it, and, through the “Historical Person Locator,” a vast database of public records, came back with “8/1928,” which means she was 82. That date was given added credence when Vickers’ first husband, Don Prell, returned my call and said with certainty that she was born in 1928.

But Prell couldn’t clear up another fuzzy figure -- the precise number of times Vickers had been married and divorced. “At least twice,” he said.

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Yvette Vickers dies at 82; former actress and Playboy playmate

Body of former Playboy playmate Yvette Vickers found in her Benedict Canyon home

-- Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: Yvette Vickers, who was best known for appearing in the B-movies "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" and "Attack of the Giant Leeches," was found dead April 27. Credit: Los Angeles Times file

Moshe Landau, chief judge in 1961 Adolf Eichmann trial, dies at 99

Moshe Landau, chief judge in the 1961 trial of Nazi arch-criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, died Sunday in Jerusalem on the eve of the annual memorial day for the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, the government said. He was 99.

Landau was an Israeli Supreme Court justice when he was picked to head the three-judge panel for the Eichmann trial. Eichmann, who was in charge of the Final Solution, the Nazi plan to kill the Jews of Europe, was kidnapped from Argentina in 1960 by Israel's Mossad spy agency. He was convicted and hanged.

Landau was an accomplished jurist by the time of the Eichmann trial. Born in Danzig, Germany, in 1912, he studied law at the University of London and moved to Palestine in 1933, 15 years before the state of Israel was created.

He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1953. In 1980, he was named chief justice, retiring in 1982. He was given the Israel Prize, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1991.

More later at latimes.com/obituaries.

 -- Associated Press

Writer Ernesto Sabato, who led probe of crimes committed by Argentina's dictatorship, dies at 99

Sabato Writer Ernesto Sabato, who led the government's probe of crimes committed by Argentina's dictatorship, has died. He was 99.

Sabato died Saturday of complications of bronchitis at his home near Buenos Aires, his friend and collaborator Elvira Gonzalez Fraga told Radio Mitre.

He was a widely admired intellectual and author of works such as "On Heroes and Tombs" when President Raul Alfonsin asked him to lead an investigation into crimes committed under the soldiers who led Argentina from 1976 to 1983.

Sabato called his work of helping to document the murders, tortures and illegal arrests committed by a regime he had initially supported a "descent into hell." The commission's report, "Never Again," served as the basis for prosecuting key figures in the dictatorship after the return to civilian rule.

Official and independent agencies estimate that 12,000 to 30,000 people were killed by government forces seeking to wipe out leftists.

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