Arts Obituaries

Ray Brown, jazz bass virtuoso, dies

By John Andrews, 10 July 2002

After an extraordinary 55-year career, bassist Ray Brown died suddenly while napping before a performance scheduled in Indianapolis for the evening of July 2. Brown was 75.

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri (1932-2002)

Pioneer of contemporary Aboriginal art dies

By Susan Allan, 4 July 2002

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, one of the acknowledged pioneers of the contemporary Australian Aboriginal art movement which emerged at Papunya settlement in central Australia in the early 1970s, died in Alice Springs on June 21. A co-founder of the audacious Papunya Tula style and the first Aboriginal painter to be critically acclaimed by art patrons in Europe and North America, Clifford Possum’s life bore all the scars of poverty and racist oppression confronting Aborigines in central Australia in the 20th century.

Billy Wilder, filmmaker and satirist, dead at 95

By David Walsh, 3 April 2002

Director Billy Wilder, whose films were renowned for their wit, cynicism and satirical edge, died March 27 in Beverly Hills, California at the age of 95. Wilder, Austrian-born, but in the US since 1934, directed his last film in 1981. Among his best-known works are Double Indemnity (1944), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Stalag 17 (1953), Some Like It Hot (1959) and The Apartment (1960).

Leading Australian documentary filmmaker dies

Robin Anderson (1950-2002)

By Richard Phillips, 18 March 2002

Robin Anderson, rightly regarded as one of Australia’s best documentary filmmakers, died on March 8, aged 51, after a nine-month struggle with cancer. Anderson was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease in June last year, the day before her last movie— Facing the Music —premiered at the Sydney Film Festival. A reluctant publicist of her own work, the quietly-spoken Anderson co-directed with Bob Connolly, her husband and filmmaking partner, five feature-length documentaries between 1983 and 2001 that have left an ineradicable mark on the genre.

"I told you I was ill," Spike Milligan (1918-2002)

By Paul Bond, 7 March 2002

Spike Milligan, who died February 27 aged 83, was the single most important figure of post-war British comedy. His radio scripts for The Goon Show, his television series Q, his novels and war memoirs have been cited as an influence by practically every significant innovator in comedy over the last four decades. Though virtually unknown across the Atlantic, contemporary performers as varied as Eddie Izzard and Robin Williams have acknowledged that his legacy not only influenced them, but also inspired their own development.

Dave Van Ronk, folk and blues artist, dead at 65

By Fred Mazelis, 14 February 2002

Dave Van Ronk, the acclaimed blues and folk singer, guitarist, songwriter and teacher, died February 10 at the age of 65. His death came three months after surgery for colon cancer.

Why was Stanley Kramer so unfashionable at the time of his death?

By David Walsh, 26 February 2001

American film director and producer Stanley Kramer, who died February 22 in Woodland Hills, California, was one of those unfortunate once-prominent artists who are best known by the time of their death, fairly or unfairly, for their defects and limitations. The producer of Champion (1949), Home of the Brave (1949) and The Wild One (1954) and director of The Defiant Ones (1958), On the Beach (1959) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Kramer's reputation as the somewhat heavy-handed conveyor of liberal themes and sentiments attached itself to any discussion of his work. He was known for his concerns with racism (Home of the Brave, The Defiant Ones and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner [1967]), fascism (Judgment at Nuremberg, Ship of Fools (1965) and war (On the Beach).

Japanese filmmaker dead at 88

Akira Kurosawa’s achievement

By David Walsh, 9 September 1998

The Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa died at his home in Tokyo September 6 at the age of 88. Kurosawa, who made 28 films between 1943 and 1993, belonged to that generation of European and Asian directors whose works dominated the international art film world in the 1950s and 1960s. One thinks of such figures as Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Satyijat Ray, Luis Buñuel, Luchino Visconti, Robert Bresson and Roberto Rossellini, all now either dead or inactive.

Alfred Kazin, champion of American literature: An appreciation

By Fred Mazelis, 26 June 1998

Alfred Kazin, the noted literary critic whose memoirs forcefully evoked the immigrant experience in early twentieth century America as well as the political and cultural odyssey of the intelligentsia over the past 60 years, died on June 5, his eighty-third birthday.