By Hiram Lee, 1 February 2014
Actress Joan Fontaine, who passed away in December at the age of 96, contributed a number of remarkable performances to Hollywood films of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.
By David Walsh, 30 January 2014
In a career that lasted almost three quarters of a century, Seeger wrote, co-wrote or was identified with a number of the most popular folk or protest songs of the second half of the twentieth century.
By Rafael Azul, 29 January 2014
Argentine poet Juan Gelman died in Mexico city on January 14. Gelman was considered one of the most important Spanish-language poets, as well as a fighter against the Latin American dictatorships of the 1970s.
By Fred Mazelis, 18 January 2014
The career and legacy of Amiri Baraka reveal, above all, the dead end of black nationalism, as well as communalism and ethnic-based cultural exclusivism of every kind.
By D. Lencho, 8 January 2014
These great, although lesser-known figures in jazz, who died in the last few months of 2013, left a legacy of beautiful music.
By Hiram Lee, 7 January 2014
Singer Phil Everly, one half of the early Rock ‘n’ Roll duo The Everly Brothers, has died at the age of 74.
By Paul Bond, 23 December 2013
Actor Peter O’Toole, one of the remarkable film and stage actors of his generation, died December 14 at 81.
By Sandy English, 9 December 2013
Doris Lessing, the Nobel Prize winning novelist , died at age 94 in London on November 11. She produced over 50 novels and scores of short stories.
On the death of literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki (1920-2013): A passionate advocate of literature—Part 1
By Sybille Fuchs, 31 October 2013
Polish-born literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki was one of the most important figures in contemporary German cultural life.
By Hiram Lee, 29 October 2013
Lou Reed, founder of the influential rock band The Velvet Underground, has died at the age of 71.
By Hiram Lee, 27 August 2013
Rhythm and blues great Bobby “Blue” Bland, whose hits included “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “Turn on Your Lovelight,” died this summer at the age of 83.
By David Walsh, 21 June 2013
American actor James Gandolfini, best known for his role in The Sopranos, died in Rome on Wednesday night.
By Hiram Lee, 25 May 2013
Ray Manzarek, keyboardist of the 1960s rock band The Doors, died May 20 at the age of 74.
By Hiram Lee, 29 April 2013
Legendary country singer George Jones died in Nashville on April 26. A remarkable performer, Jones was a significant figure in American popular music during the second half of the 20th century.
By Hiram Lee, 10 April 2013
Singer Cleotha Staples of the popular gospel, folk and R&B group the Staple Singers, died recently at the age of 78.
By Fred Mazelis, 2 March 2013
A musician who became world-famous more than half a century ago, Van Cliburn had a career that was noteworthy, even if he never achieved the potential that seemed possible in his youth.
By John Andrews, 11 February 2013
Donald Byrd, a trumpet master associated with the post-bebop jazz that emerged in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s, died last week at the age of 80.
By Kapila Fernando, K. Ratnayake and Peter Symonds, 20 December 2012
What was unique about Ravi Shankar was the breadth of his interests, willingness to experiment and passion for making classical Indian music available to the world.
By Hiram Lee, 10 December 2012
A significant figure in postwar American culture, Brubeck’s classic 1959 album Time Out sold a million copies, the first jazz album to hold that distinction.
By Fred Mazelis, 6 December 2012
American composer Elliott Carter reflected the trajectory of Western classical music in the past century.
By Clare Hurley, 30 August 2012
Australian-born art critic and social historian Robert Hughes (The Shock of the New, The Fatal Shore) died August 6 in New York City after a long illness.
By Sandy English, 27 August 2012
Gore Vidal, novelist, playwright, essayist and one-time television personality, died July 31 at his home in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles.
By Hiram Lee, 23 July 2012
Country music icon Kitty Wells died July 16 at her home in Nashville, Tennessee.
Film critic Andrew Sarris 1928-2012: An appreciation
By David Walsh, 26 June 2012
One of the leading American film critics of the past half-century, Andrew Sarris, died in New York City on June 20. The WSWS is reposting an interview we did with Sarris and a review of one of his later books. The interview includes a new introduction.
Film critic Andrew Sarris 1928-2012: An appreciation
By David Walsh, 26 June 2012
The World Socialist Web Site is reposting here an article originally published on July 1, 1998. See also the accompanying interview with Andrew Sarris, also from 1998, with a new introduction following his death June 20.
By Christine Schofelt and Hector Cordon, 14 June 2012
The American science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury was one of the most influential popular authors for the generation that grew up after the Second World War.
14 June 2012
Science fiction and fantasy writer Steven Brust, best known for the Vlad Taltos series of novels, offers the WSWS a comment on Ray Bradbury, who died June 5.
By Hiram Lee, 8 June 2012
Legendary guitarist and folk singer Doc Watson died May 29 in North Carolina.
By Christine Schofelt, 7 June 2012
Beloved author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are and many others) died May 8.
By James Brewer, 26 May 2012
Booker T. and the M.G.’s bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn, died suddenly while on tour in Tokyo on May 13.
By Dorian Griscom, 25 May 2012
The German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was renowned for his interpretations of Schubert, Schumann and Brahms songs, but his repertoire included opera and oratorio as well.
By Sandy English, 3 May 2012
Hilton Kramer spoke for some of the most retrograde forces in American culture.
By Hiram Lee, 25 April 2012
Broadcaster and entrepreneur Dick Clark, host of the long-running teen dance show American Bandstand, died April 18.
By James Brewer, 23 April 2012
After 14-year bout with cancer, Levon Helm, the drummer and singer of The Band, dies in New York.
By Hiram Lee, 31 March 2012
Earl Scruggs, a pioneering figure in Bluegrass music and an innovator on the 5-string Banjo, has died at the age of 88.
By Hiram Lee, 13 February 2012
American popular singer Whitney Houston has died in Los Angeles at the age of 48.
By David Walsh, 9 February 2012
Ben Gazzara had a long career in film, theater and television, which began in the mid-1950s. He worked with numerous interesting directors, although he seems to have found the greatest artistic satisfaction working with John Cassavetes.
“I no longer deal with politics, with generalisations. I have stopped understanding them.”
By Stefan Steinberg, 27 January 2012
In many respects Angelopoulos expresses the artistic and political crisis of a generation of intellectuals who tragically failed to come to grips with the traumas of the past century and the extraordinary social and intellectual challenges of the new.
By Paul Bond, 26 January 2012
Etta James had an instantly recognisable voice, sinuous, tender and harsh in equal measure. She died a few days short of her 74th birthday.
By Hiram Lee, 24 January 2012
Influential R&B musician Johnny Otis, best-known for the hit dance record “Willie and the Hand Jive” died January 17 at the age of 90.
By Paul Bond, 5 January 2012
The longtime sideman for Chicago blues great Howlin’ Wolf, Hubert Sumlin, died last month at the age of 80.
By Paul Bond, 29 December 2011
British filmmaker Ken Russell, who directed Women in Love, The Music Lovers, The Devils and many other works, died last month aged 84.
By Hiram Lee, 28 December 2011
Jazz drummer Paul Motian, a member of the classic Bill Evans Trio of the early 1960s, died recently at the age of 80.
Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director—a new biography of a major American filmmaker
By Charles Bogle, 12 September 2011
In writing Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director, biographer Patrick McGilligan has performed the valuable service of tracing the fitful arc of a great and troubled director’s life and career.
By Hiram Lee, 6 September 2011
Songwriter Nick Ashford who, along with his wife Valerie Simpson, wrote several significant hits for Motown records in the late 1960s, has died at age 70.
By D. Lencho, 2 September 2011
Lyricist Jerry Leiber who, with composer Mike Stoller, wrote such memorable hits as “Hound Dog” and “Stand By Me,” has died at the age of 78.
By Hiram Lee, 30 August 2011
Soul singer and songwriter Gene McDaniels, composer of “Compared to What” and other protest songs, died July 29 at the age of 76.
29 August 2011
Stan Barstow, who died August 1, was best known for his 1960 novel A Kind of Loving.
By Paul Mitchell, 2 August 2011
British figurative painter Lucian Freud, a significant figure in modern art, died July 20 at his home in London at the age of 88.
By Robert Stevens, 29 July 2011
With the death of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, aged just 27, the world lost a genuine and original talent.
By Robert Fowler, 8 July 2011
The actor Peter Falk died late last month. Best known for his role in Columbo, the actor did some of his most interesting work in the 1970s.
“I didn’t have time to be anyone’s muse”
By Paul Bond, 22 June 2011
Leonora Carrington, who has died aged 94, was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s.
Best known for “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
By Matthew Brennan, 11 June 2011
Gil Scott-Heron, the African-American poet and musician best known for his song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” died May 27 at the age of 62.
By Hiram Lee, 9 May 2011
Folksinger Hazel Dickens, who often sang about the struggles of coal miners in Appalachia, died April 22 in Washington, D.C.
By Hiram Lee, 20 April 2011
American filmmaker Sidney Lumet, director of 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network and Serpico, died April 9 at the age of 86.
By David Walsh, 31 March 2011
Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most prominent postwar American film stars, died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles March 23 at the age of 79.
By Hiram Lee, 1 February 2011
Country singer Charlie Louvin, one half of the influential duo The Louvin Brothers, died on January 26 at the age of 83.
By Kevin Martinez, 12 January 2011
Of all the musical acts that came out of America and Britain in the late 1960s and early 1970s, none were more surreal and musically ambitious than Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band.
By Hiram Lee, 10 January 2011
Blake Edwards, the writer-director responsible for such films as The Pink Panther and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, died December 15 at the age of 88.
By Paul Bond, 8 January 2011
Public reactions to the death of Pete Postlethwaite from cancer say much about his qualities as an actor.
By Richard Phillips, 7 December 2010
Mario Monicelli, widely regarded as the father of the “comedy Italian-style” genre, took his life on November 29 after leaping from the fifth floor of San Giovanni hospital in Rome where he was being treated for prostate cancer.
By Hiram Lee, 22 October 2010
Veteran actor Tony Curtis died September 29 at the age of 85. He was a talented performer whose best films, including Some Like it Hot and Sweet Smell of Success, remain well worth seeing.
By Tony Cornwell, 19 October 2010
Solomon Burke—who died in the Netherlands on October 10 from natural causes, aged 70—was a great soul singer with hits such as “Cry to Me,” “Tonight’s the Night,” and, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.”
By Marty Jonas, 13 October 2010
Claude Chabrol, one of the giants of French and international cinema, died on September 12, at the age of 80. To the end of his life, he kept to a daunting work regimen, directing an average of a film a year.
By David Walsh, 8 October 2010
Arthur Penn, one of the most sensitive and intelligent figures in American filmmaking in the 1960s and 1970s, died in New York City on September 28.
By Paul Stuart, 2 June 2010
The remarkable French-born sculptor Louise Bourgeois, who moved to the US in the late 1930s and became an American citizen in 1955, died in a hospital in Manhattan on Monday. Bourgeois, 98, reportedly suffered a heart attack Saturday night.
Singer, actress dead at 92
By John Andrews, 13 May 2010
Lena Horne’s death in a New York City hospital last Sunday, less than two months shy of her 93rd birthday, is an occasion not only to review her remarkable show business career, but also to consider the conditions during which that career unfolded.
By Hiram Lee, 28 April 2010
Rapper Guru of Gang Starr, a significant figure in hip hop music for two decades, died on April 19 at the age of 48.
17 April 2010
The following letter was sent in response to the appreciation of British actor Corin Redgrave published by the World Socialist Web Site on April 12.
Joined Trotskyist movement in early 1970s
By David Walsh and David North, 12 April 2010
British actor Corin Redgrave died April 6 in a south London hospital, three months shy of turning 71. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000 and suffered a major heart attack in 2005. However, he recovered sufficiently to be able to return to the stage in 2009 and apparently was in discussion about future theatrical projects.
By James Brookfield, 2 February 2010
American author J.D. Salinger, best known for his 1951 classic The Catcher in the Rye, died Wednesday, January 27. He was 91.
By David Walsh, 16 January 2010
French film director Eric Rohmer died January 11 in Paris, at the age of 89. Rohmer’s work was most prominent in the 1970s and 1980s, although he continued making films until 2007.
By C. W. Rogers, 7 January 2010
Roy DeCarava, one of the world’s most renowned photographers, died in October six weeks shy of his 90th birthday. DeCarava is perhaps best known for his portraits of jazz musicians and everyday life in Harlem.
By Hiram Lee, 28 December 2009
Jennifer Jones, the talented actress who appeared in such films as Cluny Brown, Duel in the Sun and Madame Bovary, died December 17 at the age of 90.
By D. Lencho, 10 October 2009
Latin American music lost one of its greatest exponents with the death of Argentinean singer Mercedes Sosa last Sunday. The singer’s career, which spanned over five decades, came to fruition during one of the most critical periods in the continent’s history.
By Tony Cornwell, 19 August 2009
As well as being a beautiful player who never sacrificed musical ideas for flashy displays of technique, Les Paul was responsible for key advances in musical recording techniques.
By David Walsh, 3 July 2009
Malden first made his name in the New York theater as part of a generally left-wing group of writers, directors and performers and later enjoyed a long career in Hollywood extending from the postwar years to the early 1970s.
30 June 2009
A selection or recent letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site on “Michael Jackson’s death.”
By David Walsh, 27 June 2009
One greets the death of singer Michael Jackson at the age of 50 with genuine sadness, but without extraordinary surprise. Given the entire set of circumstances, it was not clear how his saga might end happily. Individuals who enjoy immense celebrity and success in America so often pay a terrible price.
By Paul Bond, 25 April 2009
The death of Franklin Rosemont, American surrealist and populariser of the work of French poet André Breton, deserves some notice.
By Paul Bond, 30 March 2009
British writer Edward Upward, who died last month, aged 105, was a remarkable figure.
By David Walsh, 29 January 2009
A major figure in American literature for the past half-century (his first full-length novel appeared in 1959), John Updike published more than 60 works—novels, collections of short stories, volumes of essays, art criticism and more.
By David Walsh and John Andrews, 27 January 2009
Robert Cavolina and Ian McCrudden’s documentary Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer, about singer Anita O’Day, whose career spanned more than 50 years, presents a picture of an extraordinary woman: tough, resilient and enormously gifted.
By Paul Bond, 5 January 2009
Pinter’s opposition to the war in Iraq was deeply embarrassing to the British ruling elite.
By John Andrews, 3 January 2009
Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard exploded onto the 1958 New York jazz scene at the age of 20. Over the next decade, he blew fiery “hard bop” with virtually all the greatest East Coast musicians and appeared on innumerable classic albums.
By Lee Parsons, 29 December 2008
Noted American artist Robert Rauschenberg died May 12 this year of heart failure at his home in Captiva, Florida at the age of 82. The passing of this influential artist obliges us to consider his work and the era during which he came to prominence.
27 December 2008
British playwright Harold Pinter died Wednesday at the age of 78, and American singer and actress Eartha Kitt died Christmas day, at 81. Both will be remembered as artists and as well for speaking out against imperialist war.
By David Walsh, 24 December 2008
This is more of a personal response to the death of poet Adrian Mitchell December 20 than an informed, much less scholarly, commentary. My encounter with his works took place several decades ago.
By Fred Mazelis, 17 December 2008
Studs Terkel, the American writer, oral historian and radio host who died on October 31, was a major figure in cultural and social history whose life spanned nearly a century.
By D. Lencho, 13 December 2008
Two prominent vocal artists identified with the struggle against racial oppression—Miriam Makeba and Odetta—recently died within a few weeks of each other. They came of age and achieved fame in the 1950s and 1960s, decades of intense struggles.
By Paul Bartizan, 10 December 2008
Jørn Utzon, whose name is bound to his greatest, and perhaps one of the world’s best-known post-World War II pieces of architecture, the Sydney Opera House, died in his sleep aged 90 on Saturday, November 29.
By Hiram Lee, 1 October 2008
The death of actor Paul Newman on September 26, after a long battle with lung cancer, was followed by a flood of tributes and remembrances.
By Paul Bond, 11 September 2008
The death of the restlessly brilliant Ken Campbell, aged just 66, has robbed the theatre of one of its most inspiring talents. He was instantly recognisable: a short, bald man with increasingly unruly eyebrows, possessed of an extraordinary speaking voice, once compared to an exhaust pipe with a broken silencer. He did take some commercial television work in sitcoms and soap operas, and some small film parts, but his reputation was established on the basis of the singularity of his own theatrical vision.
By Hiram Lee, 20 August 2008
Jerry Wexler, the legendary music producer of Atlantic Records, died of congestive heart failure on August 15 at his home in Sarasota, Florida. He was 91.
By David Walsh, 24 June 2008
American comedian George Carlin, an acerbic commentator on life and at times a sharp social satirist, died June 22 in Santa Monica, California at the age of 71. His was a critical voice in American public life.
By David Walsh, 30 May 2008
American director, producer and actor Sydney Pollack, best known for They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969), The Way We Were (1973), Three Days of the Condor (1973), Tootsie (1982) and Out of Africa (1985), died May 26 in Pacific Palisades, California of cancer at the age of 73. He had been more active—and perhaps more successful—in recent years as a producer (The Quiet American, Michael Clayton, Recount) and actor in film and television than a director.
By Paul Bond, 19 April 2008
Belgian author Hugo Claus, who died last month, was one of the most prolific and versatile of postwar European writers. From 1947, when he was just 18, he produced thousands of poems, some 20 novels, 18 books of short stories, film scripts, libretti, and around 60 plays, including translations into Dutch and adaptations from English, French, Greek, German and Spanish works. He also painted, and worked extensively in the dramatic arts as a director. He once said that had he grown up in a country with a tradition of cinema, he would probably have been a film director rather than a writer. Some of his works are available in English translations, including his most important novel, 1983’s The Sorrow of Belgium (Het Verdriet van België).
By Joanne Laurier and David Walsh, 18 April 2008
American film actor Charlton Heston died April 5 in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 84. In 2002, he announced publicly that he had been diagnosed with symptoms “consistent with Alzheimer’s disease.”
By Hiram Lee, 8 April 2008
American actor Richard Widmark, a veteran of more than 70 films as well as numerous theater and radio productions, died March 24 at his Connecticut home after a long illness. He was 93. Widmark was a serious and talented performer and one of the few surviving members of a group of actors including John Garfield, Robert Mitchum, William Holden, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan and Sterling Hayden, all of whom emerged in the post-war period and were substantially shaped by the events of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Together they were responsible for some of the most engaging performances of the post-war American cinema.
By Paul Bond, 3 April 2008
Any consideration of an actor’s legacy must ask: What impact did he or she have on the art and craft? What can younger artists learn from his or her life? Paul Scofield, who has died aged 86, leaves a body of work uncorrupted by anything extraneous. He remained uninterested in anything smacking of celebrity. He wrote no autobiography and appeared on no chat shows. He had little time for after-show parties, preferring to catch the train home to his family. He was a reluctant interviewee, and did not even attend the Oscar ceremony in person to accept his Best Actor award for A Man For All Seasons (1966).