Friday, January 5, 2018

A00855 - Heather Menzies-Urich, Louisa of the "Sound of Music"

Heather Menzies-Urich, ‘Sound of Music’ Actress, Dies at 68

Heather Menzies-Urich, third from the right, with the rest of the von Trapp family from “The Sound of Music.”Credit20th Century Fox Film Corporation
Heather Menzies-Urich, an actress best known for playing one of the singing von Trapp children in the hit 1965 film “The Sound of Music,” died on Sunday in Frankford, Ontario. She was 68.
Her son, the actor Ryan Urich, told Variety that she died not long after learning she had brain cancer.
Ms. Menzies-Urich — who was known as Heather Menzies throughout her acting career — played Louisa von Trapp, the third-oldest of the seven singing von Trapp children, in “The Sound of Music,” one of the most successful movies on the 1960s. Adapted from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway musical, it starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer and won five Academy Awards, including best picture.
Ms. Menzies-Urich, left, in 2015 with Kym Karath and Debbie Turner. As children, all three had roles in the film “The Sound of Music.”CreditKevork Djansezian/Reuters
“Heather was part of ‘the family.’ There is really no other way to describe the members of the cast of the movie of ‘The Sound of Music,’ ” Ted Chapin, president and chief creative officer of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, said in a statement.
Charmian Carr, who portrayed the eldest von Trapp daughter, Liesl, in the movie, died last year.
Heather Menzies was born in Toronto on Dec. 3, 1949. She moved to the United States with her family when she was 11 and attended Hollywood High School. “The Sound of Music” was her first film.
She went on to appear in “Hawaii” (1966), alongside her “Sound of Music” co-star Ms. Andrews, as well as “Piranha” (1978), “Endangered Species” (1982) and other movies. On television, she was a regular on the 1977-78 science-fiction series “Logan’s Run” and also seen on “Dragnet,” “Bonanza,” “Marcus Welby, M.D.” and other shows, including “Vegas,” which starred her husband, Robert Urich.
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Ms. Menzies-Urich married Mr. Urich in 1975. He died of cancer in 2002. After his death, Ms. Menzies-Urich established the Robert Urich Foundation to raise funds for cancer research.
In addition to her son Ryan, she is survived by two daughters, Allison and Emily, several grandchildren and a great-grandchild, Variety reported.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A00854 - Mamie Johnson, Trailblazing Woman Pitcher in the Negro Leagues

Mamie Johnson, known as Peanut, on her back porch in Washington in 2010, holding some of the balls she used to throw ceremonial first pitches. CreditEli Meir Kaplan for The New York Times
Mamie Johnson, one of a handful of women to play in baseball’s Negro leagues in the early 1950s — and the only one known to pitch — died on Monday in a Washington hospital. She was 82.
She had been admitted to the hospital because of problems with her pacemaker, her stepdaughter Yvonne Livingston said. Johnson lived in Washington.
The Negro leagues were waning when Johnson joined the Indianapolis Clowns in 1953. Jackie Robinson had integrated the majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, and the most talented black players were being recruited by major league teams.
Mamie Johnson as a member of the Indianapolis Clowns in 1954.CreditNoirTech Research
But Negro league teams still cultivated talented players. (Hank Aaron played for the Clowns some years before Johnson joined the team.) And the Clowns were open to signing women: Two others, Toni Stone and Connie Morgan, also played for the team in the early 1950s, both as infielders.
Johnson, who stood about 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighed about 120 pounds during her playing days — hence the nickname Peanut — was initially signed largely as a novelty. Besides serious baseball, the Clowns and other teams in the Negro leagues also staged comedy routines and barnstormed playing exhibition games to supplement what they earned from competitive play.
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But Johnson could pitch. She said she had acquired her nickname while playing for the Clowns when an opposing player derided her as looking like a peanut on the mound. She then struck him out.
She soon found a regular spot in the Clowns’ rotation. A deceptively hard-throwing right-hander, she threw a fastball, slider, circle change, screwball and curveball, for which she received pointers from the Negro leagues great Satchel Paige, she told The New York Times in 2010.
Statistics from the Negro leagues in those years are spotty at best, but her record with the Clowns was said to be an impressive 33-8 during her three years on the team.
Johnson may have owed her chance to excel in a man’s league in part to racism. In the late 1940s, before she was recruited to play for the Clowns, she wanted to try out for a team in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which inspired the 1992 film “A League of Their Own,” but she was not allowed to.
“I’m so glad to this day that they turned me down,” Johnson told The Times. “To know that I was good enough to be with these gentlemen made me the proudest lady in the world. Now I can say that I’ve done something that no other woman has ever done.”
She was born on Sept. 27, 1935, in Ridgeway, S.C. Her mother, Della Belton Havelow, a dietitian, and her father, Gentry Harrison, separated when she was young. An uncle, Leo Belton, who was near her age and more like a brother, taught her how to play baseball starting when she was about 6.
Johnson collected memorabilia, like this plate commemorating her years with the Indianapolis Clowns.CreditEli Meir Kaplan for The New York Times
“There was nothing else to do,” Johnson said in a video interview with the National Visionary Leadership Project. “We didn’t have basketball, we didn’t have football, we didn’t have tennis. We didn’t have that; all we knew was baseball.”
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson: Hopes And Dreams Of Playing Professional Baseball Video by visionaryproject
She grew up playing with the boys, using balls made out of rocks wrapped in twine, and honed her accuracy by throwing at birds perched on fences. She later moved to New Jersey, where she played on a boys’ Police Athletic League team, and then to Washington, where she played on semiprofessional men’s sandlot teams before she joined the Clowns.
She married Charles Johnson and had a son, Charles, shortly before she started playing with the Clowns. She last played for the team in 1955, leaving to become a nurse and to spend more time caring for her son. She also coached youth league baseball teams and worked in a store that sold Negro leagues merchandise.
After the end of her first marriage she married Emanuel Livingston, who survives her. In addition to him and her stepdaughter Yvonne Livingston, her survivors include four other stepdaughters, Gretchen Hall, Zonia Haskins and Theresa and Angela Livingston; one stepson, Emanuel; her uncle, Leo; several siblings; two grandsons; and many step-grandchildren. Her son died in 2016.
Johnson may not have participated in the league that inspired “A League of Their Own,” but she did inspire a league of her own. The Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Little League was formed in 2015 in Washington, for both boys and girls.

A00853 - Calestous Juma, Global Advocate for Sustainable Development

Calestous Juma in 2004. His championing of sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa was informed by his arduous childhood in a poor village there. CreditMartha Stewart/Harvard Kennedy School
Calestous Juma, a prominent global advocate for sustainable development in struggling countries, particularly in his native Africa, could trace his passion for technological innovation to his arduous childhood in colonial Kenya.
One of 14 children, most of whom died of malaria, he grew up on the shore of Lake Victoria in a remote village of mud huts without electricity or running water. The nearest post office was 20 miles away. Flooding was common.
“The family kept getting pushed out of their home and then trying to go back,” his wife, Alison Field-Juma, said. “So there was this sort of constant change in his environment. It was also incredibly challenging. They were forced to innovate. Both his parents were real innovators. I think that’s where that spirit comes from.”
His father, a carpenter, introduced cassava, a starchy root native to South America, to give villagers a more reliable food supply. His mother became an entrepreneur, selling goods at marketplaces so that she could help pay for her son’s schooling.
That schooling led him ultimately to Harvard, where he became a professor of international development at the Kennedy School and directed the Agricultural Innovation in Africa project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
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He also became the first director of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the founder of the African Center for Technology Studies in Nairobi, Kenya, a pioneering group that married government policy with science and technology to spur sustainable development and foster distinctly African perspectives on science.
Professor Juma died on Dec. 15 at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 64. His wife said the cause was cancer. At his death he was widely credited as having been an important force in ensuring that biotechnology would play a critical role in improving economic life in many developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Calestous understood that people often resist the changes that come with innovation, and that overcoming this resistance can be very important in enabling societies to move ahead,” said Douglas W. Elmendorf, dean of the Kennedy School. “So he tried to understand why people resist innovation, and what can be done to make them feel comfortable with change.”
Professor Juma’s latest book, “Innovation and Its Enemies” (2016), described how technological change is often greeted with public skepticism. Beneath such opposition, he argued, is the belief that only a small segment of society will benefit from potential progress, while the much broader society bears the greatest risk.
Successful policymaking must take into account people’s feelings, he believed. When Professor Juma helped design a stove for use in developing countries, its metallic cylinder was replaced with a clay lining to improve efficiency. But the prototype caused less smoke — attracting more mosquitoes — and villagers worried that metal workers could lose their jobs. A later model used metal and clay.
“Ultimately, all development is experimental; no one knows what they are doing,” Professor Juma said with a laugh in 2014. “Africans need the chance to experiment as well. They will make mistakes, but they can learn from them, too.”
Professor Juma could be lighthearted in the classroom or in public in order to make his points. With more than 100,000 followers on Twitter, he shared with them cartoons that teased skeptics of science and innovation. One of his last posts featured a game show called “Facts Don’t Matter.” In it, a contestant is told: “I’m sorry, Jeannie, your answer was correct, but Kevin shouted his incorrect answer over yours, so he gets the points.”
“Calestous was very serious about getting his work right, but he was not serious about himself,” Mr. Elmendorf said. “He shared his enjoyment of the research and teaching, though he was working on life-or-death issues for many people. He was incredibly optimistic.”
Professor Juma was born to John Kwada Juma and Clementina Nabwire Juma in the village of Busia, in western Kenya, on June 9, 1953. He grew up nearby in Port Victoria.
“Port Victoria was as remote as it gets — a small fishing village on Lake Victoria at Kenya’s westernmost point,” said Ken Kobe, who taught Professor Juma while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer there in 1969-70.
After graduating from Egoji Teachers’ Training College in central Kenya in 1974, Professor Juma became a science teacher in Mombasa, a port city on the Indian Ocean. He went on to write so many letters to the editor of the Nairobi-based newspaper The Daily Nation that it hired him in 1978 to be its first full-time science and environment correspondent.
Wangari Maathai, the environmentalist who became the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, hired Professor Juma to work at a nonprofit in Nairobi. Encouraged by Ms. Maathai, he won a scholarship and earned a doctorate in science and technology policy studies in 1987 from the University of Sussex in England.
He met his wife, who also works in sustainable development, at a conference in Montreal. They married in 1987 and moved to Kenya.
Professor Juma experienced two major ecological disruptions in his childhood, Ms. Field-Juma said. One was the introduction of Nile perch to Lake Victoria to help the fishing industry. Though it did benefit the area economically for a time, it also contributed to the depletion, to near-extinction, of stocks of many other types of fish in the lake.
The second change was the British colonial government’s deforestation of much of the Port Victoria region, which dried out what had been a wet and fertile area. “The microclimate of that region was irreversibly changed,” Ms. Field-Juma said.
On his return to Kenya with his wife, he sought a scientific solution to the agricultural crisis.
“I started to run into all the people who had collected seeds of fruits and vegetables, mostly fruits, that had disappeared,” he said in an interview in 2003. “And some of them explained to me that those fruits have disappeared because the area had dried up. And they would pose this question to me: ‘You scientists, are you able to grow these fruits in places where there is less water?’ ”
Professor Juma recognized the potential of genetic modification to address such issues and to help solve Africa’s broader agricultural problems, distilling his thinking in the 1989 book “The Gene Hunters.”
The book helped pave the way for the Convention on Biological Diversity, a United Nations treaty signed by more than 150 governments in 1992 to protect the survival of diverse species and ecosystems.
Besides his wife, he is survived by his son, Eric, and his sister, Roselyda Nanjala.
Until he was hospitalized, Professor Juma had planned to host about 20 international students for Thanksgiving in Cambridge. Instead, he joined them from the hospital by Skype, sharing stories and discussing development with them.
“It was just what he wanted,” Ms. Field-Juma said, “and he wasn’t even there.”