News, notes and follow-ups

Western artist Harry Jackson dies in Wyoming at 87


Wyoming artist Harry Jackson, known for both his works of abstract expressionism and images of the American West, died Monday at a hospital in Sheridan, Wyo. He was 87.

He was born in Chicago in 1924 but made his way to Wyoming in his early teens to work on a ranch. He was a combat artist for the Marines during World War II.

Jackson created a 21-foot bronze sculpture of actor John Wayne that was installed in 1984 in front of the Great Western Savings and Loan building on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills that is now headquarters for Larry Flynt Publications.

Other sculptures and paintings by Jackson can be found at museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum and in collections owned by the Saudi Arabian royal family and Queen Elizabeth II.

The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Wyoming contains the largest museum collection of his work in the United States.

More later at

-- Associated Press

Photo: Harry Jackson's bronze statute of John Wayne. Credit: Los Angeles Times


Cuban exile militant Orlando Bosch dies in Miami at 84

Prominent Cuban exile militant Orlando Bosch, who was acquitted in Venezuela in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner, has died in Miami. He was 84.

The opponent of Cuba's Fidel Castro died Wednesday after a lengthy hospital stay in suburban Miami. Bosch's wife, Adriana, said he had suffered complications from various illnesses and had been hospitalized since December.

Bosch and fellow militant Luis Posada Carriles were both accused in the 1976 bombing that killed all 73 people aboard the flight from Venezuela to Cuba.

Venezuelan authorities arrested Bosch and held him for 11 years. They failed twice to convict him and finally freed him to return to the United States. The federal government then held Bosch for three years in a Miami jail as an "undesirable alien" and released a report linking him to right-wing terrorist groups responsible for 50 bombings in Miami, New York and Latin America. While Posada was awaiting a retrial after an acquittal by a military court, he escaped from a Venezuelan prison. Posada was recently acquitted on charges of lying to U.S. immigration authorities about his past.

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Composer Peter Lieberson dies at 64

American composer Peter Lieberson, who wrote his most inspired songs for his great love, the late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, has died. He was 64.

Lieberson died Saturday at a hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel, of complications from lymphoma, said Peggy Monastra, an executive at his New York-based publisher, G. Schirmer.

The New York-born composer, who lived in Santa Fe, N.M., was in Israel for medical treatment. He had been diagnosed with the cancer while still mourning his wife's 2006 death of breast cancer.

Lieberson was a well-established artist years before he met Lorraine Hunt in 1997. His works were being performed by the top U.S. orchestras and soloists including cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianists Emanuel Ax and Peter Serkin.

A follower of Tibetan Buddhism, Lieberson came from a generation of composers whose classical music was suffused with references to more popular, audience-friendly styles such as jazz and Broadway.

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'Hub' Schlafly, who helped invent the teleprompter, dies at 91


 Hubert "Hub" Schlafly, a key member of the team that invented the teleprompter and rescued decades' worth of soap opera actors, newscasters and politicians from the embarrassment of stumbling over their words on live television, has died. He was 91.

Schlafly died April 20 at a hospital in Stamford, Conn., after a brief illness, according the Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home, which handled the arrangements.

Schlafly helped start the TelePrompTer Corp., eventually becoming its president and accepting an Emmy Award for the company in 1999 — a few years after winning one himself 1992 for his work in developing the first cable system permitting subscribers to order special programs.

Schlafly was born Aug. 14, 1919, in St. Louis. He graduated from Notre Dame University, where he studied electrical engineering. He worked for General Electric and the MIT Radiation Laboratory before joining 20th Century Fox in New York City in 1947.

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Hazel Dickens, folk and bluegrass musician, dies at 75

Hazel Dickens, a folk singer and bluegrass musician who advocated for coal miners, has died. She was 75.

Dickens died Friday morning at a hospice in Washington, D.C., of complications from pneumonia. Her death was confirmed by Ken Irwin, a founder of Rounder Records, her label for about 40 years.

Dickens became a fixture in the bluegrass circuit in the 1960s and '70s with her musical partner, Alice Gerrard. The duo performed as Hazel & Alice. They were among the first prominent female bluegrass performers.

Dickens' music was later featured in the Oscar-winning 1976 documentary, "Harlan County U.S.A.," about Kentucky coal miners, and John Sayles' 1987 drama, "Matewan." Irwin said Dickens will be remembered for giving voice to coal miners.

Among her honors was a 2008 induction into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

-- Associated Press

Jess Jackson, Kendall-Jackson founder and thoroughbred owner, dies at 81

Jess Jackson, the founder of the Kendall-Jackson winery and a prominent thoroughbred owner, died of cancer Thursday at his home in Geyserville, Calif. He was 81.

Caroline Shaw, a spokeswoman for Jackson Family Wines, confirmed Jackson's death.

In recent years, Jackson was one of horse racing's leading owners. He campaigned two-time horse of the year Curlin, and then purchased a majority interest in Rachel Alexandra, the sensational filly who was horse of the year in 2009.

As a California vintner, Jackson built a multimillion-dollar empire on chardonnay with his popular Kendall-Jackson brand before moving into the racehorse business with his Stonestreet Stable.

A letter on his company's website ended by asking friends to "take a moment this week to lift a glass and join us in a toast to our friend and founder Jess Jackson."

More later at


Bill Dwyre: New breed of owner is just what horse racing needs

-- Associated Press

Photo: Jess Jackson in 2005. Credit: Los Angeles Times


Norwegian distance runner Grete Waitz dies at 57

Grete Waitz, the Norwegian runner who won nine New York City marathons and the silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, died Tuesday after a six-year battle with cancer. She was 57.

Helle Aanesen, the manager of the Active Against Cancer Foundation in Norway, said Waitz died early Tuesday at the Ulleval University Hospital in Oslo.

A former Oslo schoolteacher, Waitz won her first New York City Marathon in 1978, setting a world-best women's record of 2 hours, 32 minutes, 30 seconds in her first attempt at running the distance. She went on to win eight more times, with her last victory coming in 1988.

She won the London Marathon twice, in 1983 and '86, the Stockholm Marathon in 1988 and earned five titles at the world cross-country championships from 1978-81 and 1983.

Waitz also won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1983 world championships in Helsinki, Finland. A year later, she took second behind Joan Benoit in the first women's Olympic marathon.

Waitz competed at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics in the 1,500 meters but missed the 1980 Moscow Games because of the American-led boycott.

Waitz is survived by her husband, Jack Waitz, and her two brothers, Jan and Arild.

Waitz had never run a marathon when she started the New York City race in October 1978. Her husband had talked her into trying, but after about 18 miles she regretted it.

“I was hurting. I was mad. I was angry. I told Jack: 'Never again,'” Waitz recalled in 2008.

She broke the world record three more times: In New York in 1979 and '80 and in London in '83.

Waitz began undergoing cancer treatment in 2005 but rarely discussed her condition in public.

“That's not my personality,” she said in November 2005. “I've always been a private person. … I'll do that when I cross the finish line and win this race.”

At the time she was optimistic she could conquer the disease.

“I'm crossing my fingers,” she said. “I will beat it.”

Born in Oslo as Grete Andersen on Oct. 1, 1953, she trained and raced in her youth at Oslo's Bislett Stadium, which raised a bronze statue in her honor in 1984.

-- Associated Press

Conservative political strategist William A. Rusher dies at 87

William A. Rusher, a conservative strategist for more than 50 years who helped engineer Barry Goldwater's nomination as the Republican candidate for president in 1964, has died. He was 87.

Rusher died Saturday in a nursing facility in San Francisco after a long illness. His death was confirmed by Richard Vetterli, a spokesman for the San Francisco Medical Examiner's Office.

Rusher's influence was felt on decades of U.S. politics, from the 1961 stirrings of the "draft Goldwater" effort to opposing Richard Nixon's overtures to China in the 1970s to advising Ronald Reagan's administration in the 1980s.

Rusher also helped shape the public debate through syndicated columns in newspapers across the country. He spent 31 years as publisher of National Review, the magazine founded by William F. Buckley Jr. that was a postwar cornerstone of anti-communism and American conservative thought.

"There wasn't an active candidate or a politician who wasn't familiar with his work," said Brian Kennedy, president of the Claremont Institute, a conservative public-policy think tank in Claremont. Rusher joined the institute as a distinguished fellow after leaving the National Review in 1988.

Sal Russo, a Sacramento Republican operative who is the chief strategist for the Tea Party Express, said he developed a friendship with Rusher back when Russo was working for then-Gov. Ronald Reagan in the 1960s. Buckley and Rusher laid the groundwork for the conservative agenda, he said, that would be personified by Reagan as president.

"He has really been somewhat of a hidden giant of the conservative movement," Russo said. "He was there at the very beginning, when they came up with the idea of what has become the modern conservative movement."

Russo said that although Buckley was the face of the conservative movement, Rusher worked hard behind the scenes to pull the coalition together. "Bill was a crucial person in that whole process. Buckley of course was full of ideas, but Rusher was very organized, fastidious and he provided all the organizational heft and played a big role in the Young Americans for Freedom."

More later at

-- Associated Press

Designer Bijan Pakzad dies

BijanBijan Pakzad, an Iranian American designer of jewelry, fragrances and luxury menswear who ran a Beverly Hills boutique and was renowned as clothier to some of the world’s most powerful men, died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his family said.

Pakzad was 67, his family said.

He suffered a stroke while working Thursday and was rushed to the hospital but never recovered, said his son, Nicolas Bijan Pakzad, 19. He said his father once named a fragrance DNA in honor of his three children, Daniela, Nicolas and Alexandra.

“He’s dressed over 40,000 clients,” Nicolas Pakzad said, including Presidents Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama. “We have a picture of all five living presidents wearing his suits.” He said his father recently traveled to Washington, D.C., for an event honoring George H.W. Bush, whom he counted as a friend.

Pakzad was born April 4, 1944, according to his family, although some public records list the year of his birth as 1940.

He was born to affluence in Iran, went to a boarding school in Switzerland and moved to the United States in 1971. He opened House of Bijan, his by-appointment-only boutique on Rodeo Drive, five years later. He put his own image on billboard ads, attached his signature to the lining of jackets and was often referred to only by his first name. He offered exclusivity and, rather than apologize for staggering prices, made them a selling point, boasting in one ad that he sold “the costliest men’s wear in the world.”

“I am not a mass designer,” he told The Times in 2003, at a time when sales of his fragrance lines, clothes and custom jewelry reportedly totaled more than $70 million annually. “What was important to me was not to have 2 million clients, like Versace, but to have 20,000 clients.” He said he had invoices reflecting clients who spent $800,000 on a single visit to his boutique.

“Journalists don’t understand, because what I do is outrageous,” Pakzad said. “They wonder, who can pay so much money for clothes? They think my customers must be Mafioso or something. Most people would not believe the way my clients live.”

Pakzad was not shy about acknowledging an outsize ego. “With my ego, I would have been successful anyplace, but America gave me the opportunity to show my taste,” he told The Times.

In a 2001 book about marketing, “Brand Slam,” brand analyst Frank Delano noted the savvy behind Pakzad’s approach. “Bijan is the artist and thinker behind his brand,” Delano wrote. “His appearance in magazine ads reminds his customers that they’re getting a signed Bijan, not a product from his studio.”

 A full obituary will follow at

-- Christopher Goffard

 Photo: Bijan Pakzad in 1988. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Walter Breuning, world's oldest man and second-oldest person, dies at 114

Walter Breuning, the world's oldest man and second-oldest person, died Thursday. He was 114.

Breuning died of natural causes at a hospital in Great Falls, Mont., said Stacia Kirby, spokeswoman of the Rainbow Senior Living retirement home where he had been living. Breuning had been hospitalized since the beginning of the month with an undisclosed illness.

Breuning was 26 days younger than Besse Cooper of Georgia, whom the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles lists as the world's oldest person at 114.

In an interview with the Associated Press last fall, Breuning attributed his longevity to eating just two meals a day, working as long as he could and always embracing change — especially death.

"We're all going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die," he said.

Breuning was born Sept. 21, 1896, in Melrose, Minn., and spent his early years in De Smet, S.D. That first decade of the 1900s was literally a dark age for his family. They had no electricity or running water. A bath for young Walter would require his mother to fetch water from the well outside and heat it on the coal-burning stove.

He lied about his age and got a job in Minnesota with the Great Northern Railway in 1916. He moved to Great Falls two years later and remained a loyal railroad man for the rest of his life, working there for 50 years, marrying co-worker Agnes Twokey and traveling by airplane only once in his life.

He earned $90 a month for working seven days a week at the beginning, an amount that he said was "a lot of money at that time."

In 1919, he bought his first car, a $150 secondhand Ford. Breuning remembered driving around town and spooking the horses that still crowded the dirt streets of Great Falls.

"We had more damn runaways back in those days," Breuning said. "Horses are just scared of cars."

He and his wife bought property for $15 and planned to build a house, but it all went off the tracks when the Great Depression struck.

"Everybody got laid off in the '30s," Breuning said. "Nobody had any money at all. In 1933, they built the civic center over here. Sixty-five cents an hour, you know. That was the wage — big wage."

Breuning was able to hold onto his job, but he and Agnes never built their house. They sold the lot for $25, making a tidy $10 profit. It turned out to be the only time Breuning ever owned property — he was a renter for the rest of his life.

Agnes died in 1957 after 35 years of marriage. The couple didn't have any children, and Breuning never remarried.

In 1963, Breuning decided it was time to retire at age 67.

But he stuck by his philosophy and kept working. He became the manager and secretary for the Shriners, a position he held until he was 99.

Breuning moved into the Rainbow Retirement Community in 1980, calling home a spare studio apartment with bare walls.

He would eat breakfast and lunch and then retire to his room in the early afternoon. He'd visit the doctor just twice a year for checkups and the only medication he would take was aspirin, director Tina Bundtrock said.

With most of his relatives gone, Breuning said his real family was there in the Rainbow. He received letters from admirers from around the world, and he kept up with world events.

"Everybody says your mind is the most important thing about your body. Your mind and your body. You keep both busy, and by God you'll be here a long time," Breuning said.

Breuning had requested no funeral services, retirement home officials said. He asked that donations to the Shriner's Children's Travel Fund and the Scottish Rite Language Disorder Center be made in lieu of flowers and cards.

-- Associated Press

Nobel laureate Baruch S. Blumberg dies at 85

Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg, who shared the 1976 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering the hepatitis B virus, has died. He was 85.


George Blumberg said Wednesday that his father collapsed Tuesday at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., where he was giving a speech.

Blumberg shared the 1976 Nobel Prize with D. Carleton Gajdusek for their "discoveries concerning new mechanisms for the origin and dissemination of infectious diseases," according to the citation from the prize announcement that year by the Karolinska Institutet.

Gajdusek, who died in 2008, shared the prize for his work on so-called "slow viruses."

A full obituary will follow at

-- Associated Press


Whodunit? Who cares? Meet Mr. Thrifty

Cp1_0330011051 When we asked a Times security guard if he had a spare lock that could be used to secure a skeleton to a desk, he threw himself against his chair and asked, “It’s not back, is it?”

No, the original “Skelly” that we reported missing about a month ago was never returned to The Times News Obituaries department.  Choosing to own a pirated skeleton strikes us as downright creepy. But we’ve decided to move on.

Mr Skeleton Meet Mr. Thrifty, cheerfully billed on the box as both an “excellent learning tool”  and “frightening Halloween prop!” We hid him away until we could buy a chain at Home Depot, where we asked a clerk for something “strong enough that it would take bolt cutters to break but not so big it would overwhelm a small skeleton on a desk at work.”

Where do you work?” the clerk replied.

We wrapped the 10-foot chain around the skeleton stand and then finagled it  between his right “tibia” and “fibula” -– terms we can freely throw around because of the handy bone guide included with purchase. The last step in our low-tech security system: Wrapping the chain around a desktop and locking the ends together.

At 33-1/4 inches, Mr. Thrifty is at least a head taller than his predecessor. None of the old costumes are going to fit, but a colleague has suggested baby clothes as a potential source of ghoulish garb.

The consensus on the ever-present chain? Everyone seems to agree that it’s an appropriately eerie fashion accessory.


Have you seen this skeleton?

-- Valerie J. Nelson

Photos: Newly installed Mr. Thrifty, right, stands guard over the News Obituaries department and a photo of his predecessor, Skelly. The box, left, that initially housed our new mascot. Credits: Valerie J. Nelson /Los Angeles Times


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