Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A-00928 - Harry Anderson, "Night Court" Actor

Harry Anderson in 1988. He was nominated for three Emmys for his role as Judge Harry Stone on the NBC sitcom “Night Court.”CreditRichard Drew/Associated Press
Harry Anderson, who starred as the kindhearted, zany Judge Harry Stone on the long-running NBC comedy “Night Court,” was found dead early Monday at his home in Asheville, N.C. He was 65.
The Asheville Police Department, which confirmed the death, did not specify the cause but said foul play was not suspected. Turk Pipkin, a longtime friend, said Mr. Anderson had been hospitalized with the flu a few months ago and had remained sick.
Mr. Anderson, who spent nine seasons presiding over a fictional Manhattan courtroom that played host to a steady stream of oddballs, was nominated for three consecutive Emmys, from 1985 to 1987.
“Night Court,” which ran from 1984 to 1992, more than held its own against juggernauts like “Cheers,” “The Cosby Show” and “The Golden Girls” during a storied period for sitcoms.
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It was nominated for 31 Emmys and won seven. John Larroquette, Markie Post, Richard Moll, Charles Robinson and Marsha Warfield starred alongside Mr. Anderson.
Judge Harry Stone shared more than a first name with the actor who played him: Both the character and the man wore colorful ties, were magicians at heart and were superfans of the singer Mel Tormé, who made several guest appearances on “Night Court.” Mr. Anderson delivered a eulogy at Mr. Tormé’s funeral in 1999.
While he earned critical acclaim and amassed a devoted fan base on “Night Court,” Mr. Anderson never fancied himself an actor. “I’m a magician, or a performer, by nature, and that’s always what I’ve been,” he told WGN-TV in Chicago in 2014.
“I was never really an actor,” he said. “I was a magician who fell into a part on ‘Cheers.’ ”
His role as the swindler Harry (the Hat) Gittes on “Cheers” — he appeared in six episodes, four in the show’s first two seasons — led to his break on “Night Court” after he impressed Brandon Tartikoff, the president of NBC.
Mr. Anderson’s “Cheers” character echoed his real life as well. In 1985, he told People magazine that he used to run a classic street hustle, the shell game, in San Francisco, where, at 21, he had his jaw broken by an opponent who was livid at the game’s outcome.
Mr. Anderson, one of three children, was born on Oct. 14, 1952, in Newport, R.I., and spent much of his childhood on the move, often performing on the streets for money, he told People. He had lived in many cities, including Chicago, New York, St. Louis and New Orleans, by the time he landed in California at age 16. From there he found success as a comic magician, which opened the door to his acting career.
About his mother, he said to People: “She was a hustler, yeah. She did a lot of things. We moved around a lot, and she had a lot of men friends.”
But he said his childhood was not bad, adding that his dubious background should not be viewed any differently from his mother’s.
“I respect my mother; she was very concerned with taking care of us,” he said. “She did what needed to be done to try to keep us together. People find my criminal days amusing, but they find her background shocking. I don’t draw any line.”
Mr. Anderson told People that his father was a salesman who was mostly absent from his life, and that he had not seen him for 15 years before his death.
Mr. Anderson is survived by his wife, the former Elizabeth Morgan, and two children from his first marriage, to Leslie Pollack: Eva Fay Anderson, a writer and producer in Los Angeles; and Dashiell Anderson, a teacher.
In his late teens and early 20s, Mr. Anderson traveled the country performing magic. During a stint in Austin, Tex., about 45 years ago, he was performing on the street when he met someone else entertaining passers-by: a juggler named Turk Pipkin.
The chance encounter led to a lifelong friendship and business partnership. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Pipkin performed together across the United States, and when Mr. Anderson decided he wanted to try acting in Hollywood, Mr. Pipkin followed him.
“We were making it up as we went along,” Mr. Pipkin said in an interview on Tuesday. “When he gathered a crowd, people were just mesmerized. People just couldn’t look away.”
Mr. Anderson appeared on “Saturday Night Live” several times in the 1980s. He hosted the show at the height of his fame, in 1985.
After “Night Court,” Mr. Anderson felt burned out, so he moved with his first wife and their children to Washington State. But CBS lured him back into television a few years later with an offer to play the newspaper columnist Dave Barry on the comedy “Dave’s World,” which ran from 1993 to 1997.
In 2008, he appeared in an episode of “30 Rock” titled “The One With the Cast of ‘Night Court.’ ”
In 2000 Mr. Anderson moved to New Orleans, eager to return to his roots. It was there that Mr. Pipkin introduced him to Ms. Morgan. Once married, the Andersons opened the nightclub Oswald’s Speakeasy, where he performed, as well as a magic and curiosity shop, Sideshow.
Mr. Anderson at first refused to leave New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, opting to stay in Oswald’s in the French Quarter while the storm battered the city, Mr. Pipkin said. He evacuated only when the firefighters stationed nearby said they were leaving.
After Katrina, tourism flagged. Mr. Anderson disagreed with the city’s plans for rebuilding, Mr. Pipkin said.
He and his wife had also become captive to the depression that affected many in New Orleans at the time, Mr. Anderson told The New York Times in 2006. Despite efforts to support their community — Mr. Anderson opened his club for what he called French Quarter Town Hall meetings — and maintain their businesses, they chose to call it quits.
The Andersons took a weeklong vacation in Asheville, where they fell in love with an old house and decided to buy it.
“I’m glad we tried to stay” in New Orleans, Mr. Anderson said, “but I don’t want to be the person I will be if I stay here.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A00927 - Olly Wilson, Composer Who Meshed African and Western Music

The jazz drummer Max Roach, left, greeted the alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman as Olly Wilson looked on during an induction ceremony at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in Manhattan in 1997.CreditOzier Muhammad/The New York Times
Olly Wilson, an adventurous composer who integrated African, African-American and electronic rhythms, riffs and sounds into Western classical music conventions, died on March 12 in Oakland, Calif. He was 80.
His daughter, Dawn Wilson, said the cause was complications of dementia.
Mr. Wilson, a longtime professor at the University of California, Berkeley, grew up listening to jazz and spirituals. He studied African music in Ghana under one of his two Guggenheim Fellowships, opened an electronic music studio at the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he had formerly taught, and wrote academic papers, including a major essay on the art of black music.
“I see him very much as a musician, composer and a scholar — these things are hard to separate with him,” Ryan Skinner, a musicology professor at Ohio State University, said in a telephone interview. “His music is, in many ways, the resounding of his scholarship.”
In his composition “Sometimes,” Mr. Wilson used the call-and-response tradition of African-American churchgoers to create a dialogue between a tenor singing “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” and a tape that included a distorted recording of that sorrowful spiritual.
In his review of the New York Philharmonic’s performance of “Sometimes” in 1977, Donal Henahan of The New York Times wrote that the tenor William Brown “handled its vocally excruciating demands to gripping effect,” and that the “sibilants, gurgles and moans” from the tape “produce an almost suffocating mood of isolation and sadness.”
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Mr. Wilson, whose music was played by orchestras around the world, aligned himself with an African-American musical heritage that includes Frank Johnson, a 19th-century bugler, bandleader and composer; Harry Burleigh, a composer and baritone soloist; and the contemporary composer T. J. Anderson. His other influences, he said, ranged from Igor Stravinsky and Edgard Varèse to Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.
“Music is experience consciously transformed, and because my experience has been an African-American experience, I think it expresses that,” he told Bruce Duffie, a radio producer and interviewer in 1997, when asked if he were conveying African-American ideas in his pieces.
In the early 1990s, Mr. Wilson wrote a viola concerto for Marcus Thompsonthat had an improvisatory feel, with riffs associated with a jazz saxophone or trumpet and a bluesy middle section. Mr. Thompson said in a telephone interview that, compared with other viola concertos, Mr. Wilson’s was special “because he writes from a completely different medium; he’s a jazz player who’s written all sorts of chamber music.”
The work, titled “Viola Concerto,” had its long-delayed premiere in 2012 with the Rochester Philharmonic. Stuart Low, of The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, called the work “searing and haunting.”
Olly Woodrow Wilson Jr. was born in St. Louis on Sept. 7, 1937. His father was a butler and a cook; his mother, the former Alma Grace Peoples, was a domestic. Theirs was the second African-American family in their neighborhood.
The elder Mr. Wilson, a tenor who sang in choirs around St. Louis, “insisted that all of his children learn to play the piano,” Olly Wilson told an oral history project at Berkeley. “He thought understanding the piano was fundamental.”
Mr. Wilson in 2011.CreditEliot Khuner/UC Regents
Young Olly, who also played the clarinet and string bass, was in an acoustic band as a teenager that played local bars in St. Louis when Chuck Berry arrived one day; this was early in Mr. Berry’s rise to stardom, when he performed with house bands. The band — with Mr. Wilson on piano alongside a drummer, a bassist and a saxophonist — tried in vain to keep up with Mr. Berry, who brought an amplifier to augment his guitar.
“So we played, but it really didn’t make any difference because you couldn’t hear us,” Mr. Wilson said in the oral history. “He just wiped us out — bang, bang, bang — on his guitar.”
Recalling Mr. Berry’s famous duck walk, which made women in the bar swoon, Mr. Wilson said, “We considered that silly music because we were jazz aficionados.” He and his friends were more enamored of Mr. Parker and Mr. Davis.
Mr. Wilson graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor’s degree in music, then earned a master’s in music composition from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Iowa, where his dissertation was a long piece called “Three Movements for Orchestra.”
After teaching at Florida A&M University from 1960 to 1965, Mr. Wilson joined the faculty of Oberlin’s Conservatory of Music. In addition to teaching music theory and composition, he established a course in African-American music as well as the school’s electronic music studio. After his departure, the studio turned into a program known as “Technology in Music and the Related Arts.”
“With electronic media,” he told a music department publication at Berkeley in 1997, “you can work with sound like a sculptor or painter.”
He joined Berkeley in 1970 — where he would teach until 2002 — and soon after received the Guggenheim grant to study music in Ghana. His year in West Africa was the inspiration for an orchestral piece, “Shango Memory,” a celebration of Shango, a Nigerian deity, and what he called the “cultural memory of African ideas reflected in music.”
At Berkeley, he was also an administrator dealing with affirmative action in the 1970s and ’80s and helped diversify the music curriculum.
Mr. Wilson received numerous commissions, including two from the conductor Seiji Ozawa — one when Mr. Ozawa was music director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the second when he was music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Another commissioned work, for the Boston Musica Viva ensemble, was “A City Called Heaven,” which has elements of swing music, blues, spirituals and boogie-woogie. It was first performed in 1989.
“You can’t think of that piece without being overwhelmed by its imagination,” said Mr. Thompson, who is also a music professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s all based on the spirituality that’s common in the black community. He had the courage and skill to do it, and that’s how black culture appears in the classical canon.”
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Wilson is survived by his wife, the former Elouise Woods; his son, Kent; his sisters Marion Palmer and Barbara Washington; and six grandchildren.
Mr. Wilson described in the oral history how his work as a scholar affected his work as a composer.
“Because I studied African music and the history of African-American music doesn’t necessarily mean that I consciously draw upon that when I do my work as a creative artist,” he said. “But I think the pleasure that that gives me and the understanding that gives me does reflect positively on what I do as a creative artist.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

A00926 - Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Anti-Apartheid Activist

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Is Dead at 81; Fought Apartheid

Nelson Mandela with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela after his release from a South Africa prison in 1990. She often acted as a conduit to his followers during his imprisonment. They divorced in 1996.CreditGreg English/Associated Press
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, whose hallowed place in the pantheon of South Africa’s liberators was eroded by scandal over corruption, kidnapping, murder and the implosion of her fabled marriage to Nelson Mandela, died early Monday in Johannesburg. She was 81.
Her death, at the Netcare Milpark Hospital, was announced by her spokesman, Victor Dlamini. He said in a statement that she died “after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year.”
The South African Broadcasting Corporation said she was admitted to the hospital over the weekend complaining of the flu after she attended a church service on Friday. She had been treated for diabetes and underwent major surgeries as her health began failing over the last several years.
Charming, intelligent, complex, fiery and eloquent, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela (Madikizela was her surname at birth) was inevitably known to most of the world through her marriage to the revered Mr. Mandela. It was a bond that endured ambiguously: She derived a vaunted status from their shared struggle, yet she chafed at being defined by him.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was cheered by supporters after appearing in court in Krugersdorp, South Africa, in 1986. She commanded a natural constituency of her own among South Africa’s poor and dispossessed.CreditAssociated Press
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela commanded a natural constituency of her own among South Africa’s poor and dispossessed, and the post-apartheid leaders who followed Mr. Mandela could never ignore her appeal to a broad segment of society. In April 2016, the government of President Jacob G. Zuma gave Ms. Madikizela-Mandela one of the country’s highest honors: the Order of Luthuli, given, in part, for contributions to the struggle for democracy.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela retained a political presence as a member of Parliament, representing the dominant African National Congress, and she insisted on a kind of primacy in Mr. Mandela’s life, no matter their estrangement.
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“Nobody knows him better than I do,” she told a British interviewer in 2013.
Increasingly, though, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela resented the notion that her anti-apartheid credentials had been eclipsed by her husband’s global stature and celebrity, and she struggled in vain in later years to be regarded again as the “mother of the nation,” a sobriquet acquired during the long years of Mr. Mandela’s imprisonment. She insisted that her contribution had been wrongly depicted as a pale shadow of his.
“I am not Mandela’s product,” she told an interviewer. “I am the product of the masses of my country and the product of my enemy” — references to South Africa’s white rulers under apartheid and to her burning hatred of them, rooted in her own years of mistreatment, incarceration and banishment.

Conduit to Her Husband

While Mr. Mandela was held at the Robben Island penal settlement, off Cape Town, where he spent most of his 27 years in jail, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela acted as the main conduit to his followers, who hungered for every clue to his thinking and well-being. The flow of information was meager, however: Her visits there were rare, and she was never allowed physical contact with him.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela attended her husband’s trial in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1962.CreditAssociated Press
In time, her reputation became scarred by accusations of extreme brutality toward suspected turncoats, misbehavior and indiscretion in her private life, and a radicalism that seemed at odds with Mr. Mandela’s quest for racial inclusiveness.
She nevertheless sought to remain in his orbit. She was at his side, brandishing a victor’s clenched fist salute, when he was finally released from prison in February 1990.
At his funeral, in December 2013, she appeared by his coffin in mourning black — positioning herself almost as if she were the grieving first lady — even though Mr. Mandela had married Graça Machel, the widow of the former Mozambican president Samora Machel, in 1998, on his 80th birthday, six years after separating from Ms. Madikizela-Mandela and two years after their divorce. It was Mr. Mandela’s third marriage.
In 2016, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela began legal efforts to secure the ownership of Mr. Mandela’s home in his ancestral village of Qunu. She contended that their marriage had never been lawfully dissolved and that she was therefore entitled to the house, which Mr. Mandela had bequeathed to his descendants. High Court judges rejected that argument in April. After learning that she had lost the case, she was hospitalized.
Her lawyers said she would appeal the High Court judgment.

‘She Who Must Endure’

Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela was born to a noble family of the Xhosa-speaking Pondo tribe in Transkei. Her first name, Nomzamo, means “she who must endure trials.”
Her birth date was Sept. 26, 1936, according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and many other sources, although earlier accounts gave the year as 1934.
Her father, Columbus, was a senior official in the so-called homeland of Transkei, according to South African History Online, an unofficial archive, which described her as the fourth of eight children. (Other accounts say her family was larger.) Her mother, Gertrude, was a teacher who died when Winnie was 8, the archive said.
As a barefoot child she tended cattle and learned to make do with very little, in marked contrast to her later years of free-spending ostentation. She attended a Methodist mission school and then the Hofmeyr School of Social Work in Johannesburg, where she befriended Adelaide Tsukudu, the future wife of Oliver Tambo, a law partner of Mr. Mandela’s who went on to lead the A.N.C. in exile. She turned down a scholarship in the United States, preferring to remain in South Africa as the first black social worker at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto.
The Mandelas were married in June 1958.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images
One day in 1957, when she was waiting at a bus stop, Nelson Mandela drove past. “I was struck by her beauty,” he wrote in his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom.” Some weeks later, he recalled, “I was at the office when I popped in to see Oliver and there was this same young woman.”
Mr. Mandela, approaching 40 and the father of three, declared on their first date that he would marry her. Soon he separated from his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, a nurse, to marry Ms. Madikizela-Mandela on June 14, 1958.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was thrust into the limelight in 1964 when her husband was sentenced to life in prison on charges of treason. She was officially “banned” under draconian restrictions intended to make her a nonperson, unable to work, socialize, move freely or be quoted in the South African news media, even as she raised their two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa.
In a crackdown in May 1969, five years after her husband was sent to prison, she was arrested and held for 17 months, 13 in solitary confinement. She was beaten and tortured. The experience, she wrote, was “what changed me, what brutalized me so much that I knew what it is to hate.”
After blacks rioted in the segregated Johannesburg township of Soweto in 1976, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was again imprisoned without trial, this time for five months. She was then banished to a bleak township outside the profoundly conservative white town of Brandfort, in the Orange Free State.
“I am a living symbol of whatever is happening in the country,” she wrote in “Part of My Soul Went With Him,” a memoir published in 1984 and printed around the world. “I am a living symbol of the white man’s fear. I never realized how deeply embedded this fear is until I came to Brandfort.”
Contrary to the authorities’ intentions, her cramped home became a place of pilgrimage for diplomats and prominent sympathizers, as well as foreign journalists seeking interviews.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela cherished conversation with outsiders and word of the world beyond her confines. She scorned many of her restrictions, using whites-only public phones and ignoring the segregated counters at the local liquor store when she ordered Champagne — gestures that stunned the area’s whites.

Banishment Took Toll

Still, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela’s exclusion from what passed as a normal life in South Africa took a toll, and she began to drink heavily. During her banishment, moreover, her land changed. Beginning in late 1984, young protesters challenged the authorities with increasing audacity. The unrest spread, prompting the white rulers to acknowledge what they called a “revolutionary climate” and declare a state of emergency.
When Ms. Madikizela-Mandela returned to her home in Soweto in 1985, breaking her banning orders, it was as a far more bellicose figure, determined to assume leadership of what became the decisive and most violent phase of the struggle. As she saw it, her role was to stiffen the confrontation with the authorities.
The tactics were harsh.
“Together, hand in hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we will liberate this country,” she told a rally in April 1986. She was referring to “necklacing,” a form of sometimes arbitrary execution by fire using a gas-soaked tire around a supposed traitor’s neck, and it shocked an older generation of anti-apartheid campaigners. But her severity aligned her with the young township radicals who enforced commitment to the struggle.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela was surrounded by supporters in the black township of Kagiso in 1986.CreditAssociated Press
In the late 1980s, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela allowed the outbuildings around her residence in Soweto to be used by the so-called Mandela United Football Club, a vigilante gang that claimed to be her bodyguard. It terrorized Soweto, inviting infamy and prosecution.
In 1991 she was convicted of ordering the 1988 kidnapping of four youths in Soweto. The body of one, a 14-year-old named James Moeketsi Seipei — nicknamed Stompie, a slang word for a cigarette butt, reflecting his diminutive stature — was found with his throat cut.
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela’s chief bodyguard was convicted of murder. She was sentenced to six years for kidnapping, but South Africa’s highest appeals court reduced her punishment to fines and a suspended one-year term.
By then her life had begun to unravel. The United Democratic Front, an umbrella group of organizations fighting apartheid and linked to the A.N.C., expelled her. In April 1992, Mr. Mandela, midway through settlement talks with President F. W. de Klerk of South Africa, announced that he and his wife were separating. (She dismissed suggestions that she had wanted to be known by the title “first lady.” “I am not the sort of person to carry beautiful flowers and be an ornament to everyone,” she said.)
Two years later, Mr. Mandela was elected president and offered her a minor job as the deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology. But after allegations of influence peddling, bribetaking and misuse of government funds, she was forced from office. In 1996, Mr. Mandela ended their 38-year marriage, testifying in court that his wife was having an affair with a colleague.
Only in 1997, at the behest of Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu at South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, did Ms. Madikizela-Mandela offer an apology for the events of the late 1980s. “Things went horribly wrong,” she said, adding, “For that I am deeply sorry.”
Ms. Madikizela-Mandela at a 2009 gathering to honor her former husband, who died four years later.CreditAlexander Joe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Yet the catalog of missteps continued, cast into sharp relief by her haughty dismissiveness toward her accusers. In 2003 she was convicted of using her position as president of the A.N.C. Women’s League to obtain fraudulent loans; she was sentenced to five years in prison. But her sentence was again suspended on appeal, with a judge finding that she had not gained personally from the transactions.
To the end, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela remained a polarizing figure in South Africa, admired by loyalists who were prepared to focus on her contribution to ending apartheid, vilified by critics who foremost saw her flaws. Few could ignore her unsettling contradictions, however.
“While there is something of a historical revisionism happening in some quarters of our nation these days that brands Nelson Mandela’s second wife a revolutionary and heroic figure,” the columnist Verashni Pillay wrote in the South African newspaper The Mail and Guardian, “it doesn’t take that much digging to remember the truly awful things she has been responsible for.”