Philippe Zdar, 52, a French music producer who worked with artists including Kanye West and the rock band Phoenix, died Wednesday night after accidently falling through the window of a building in Paris.
Zdar, who was born Philippe Cerboneschi, was one half of Cassius, an electro act he formed in the mid-1990s with Hubert Blanc-Francard. Cassius was a major player in “French Touch,” an electronic music movement that found global success in the 1990s and 2000s and included groups such as Daft Punk. Cassius’ debut album, “1999,” released that year, was seen as a touchstone of the genre. The band’s first album in three years, “Dreems,” was due to be released this week.
Zdar was still in demand as a DJ and remixer — he was to play SummerStage in Central Park in New York on Sunday — but in recent years he had become as known for producing other people’s music as for making his own. Zdar’s work on the “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” album by Phoenix won a Grammy for best alternative music album in 2010. After that success, Motorbass, a recording studio he owned in Paris, became a destination for musicians such as Pharrell Williams and West.
Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, 90, who was thrust into national prominence in 2000 during a tumultuous custody battle between the Cuban father of a 6-year-old refugee, Elian Gonzalez, and the boy’s relatives in Miami, died Tuesday in Adrian, Michigan. The cause was cancer.
As president of what is now Barry University from 1981 to 2004, O’Laughlin transformed the school, in Miami Shores, Florida, into one of the largest Roman Catholic universities in the Southeast. She became an influential and sometimes maverick figure in South Florida church and civic affairs.
In early 2000 O’Laughlin sought in vain to ensure that Elian could stay temporarily with his Miami relatives instead of being returned to his father, who had remained in Cuba, divorced from his wife, after Elian and his mother fled in a rickety boat Nov. 21, 1999. His mother, Elizabeth Brotons Rodriguez, died when the boat capsized in the Atlantic.
Gloria Vanderbilt, 95, he society heiress who stitched her illustrious family name into designer jeans and built a $100 million fashion empire, crowning her tabloid story of a child-custody fight, of broken marriages and of jet-set romances, died Monday at her home in Manhattan. Her death was confirmed by her son Anderson Cooper, the CNN journalist, in a broadcast.
To millions who wore her jeans, blouses, scarves, shoes, jewelry and perfumes, and watched her on the media, she was an alluring, faintly naughty fashion diva in the 1970s. But behind her flair, there were hints of a little girl from the 1930s who stuttered terribly, too shy and miserable to express her feelings, and of a tumultuous American life chronicled in the gossip columns: every twist of her Hollywood affairs, her loneliness, bursts of creativity and the blow of witnessing the suicide of a son.
Molly O’Neill, 66, a freewheeling writer who would transform herself from a chef into one of America’s leading food chroniclers of food, died June 16, in Manhattan. The cause was cancer.
O’Neill, who came of age when the seeds of the modern farm-to-table movement were being planted in the 1990s, became a keen observer of what she called the “essential tension in the American appetite,” which to her mirrored the conflicts in American culture. It was a tension between the refined and the lowbrow, the processed and the natural, “the civilized and the wild,” she wrote in “American Food Writing: An Anthology With Classic Recipes” (2009), which analyzed 250 years of American culinary history.
Alan Brinkley, 70, one of the preeminent historians of his generation, with a specialty in 20th-century American political history and son of David Brinkley, the longtime NBC News anchor, died June 16 in New York of complications of frontotemporal dementia.
Brinkley grew up in Washington, a son of David Brinkley, the longtime NBC News anchor, who died in 2003. His brother Joel was a reporter and editor for The New York Times and died in 2014; his brother John is a writer at Forbes.
Alan Brinkley’s work spanned the full spectrum of the last century’s seminal events and influential characters, including the Great Depression and World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.
Franco Zeffirelli, 96, the Italian director renowned for his extravagantly romantic opera productions, popular film versions of Shakespeare and supercharged social life, died June 15 at home in Rome.
Critics sometimes reproached Mr. Zeffirelli’s opera stagings for a flamboyant glamour more typical of Hollywood’s golden era, while Hollywood sometimes disparaged his films as too highbrow. But his success with audiences was undeniable. “I’ve made my career without the support of the critics, thank God,” he told Opera News.
Beginning with his 1964 staging of Verdi’s “Falstaff,” his productions drew consistently large audiences to the Metropolitan Opera in New York over the next 40 years. His staging with Maria Callas of Verdi’s “La Traviata” in Dallas in 1958 and Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” at Covent Garden in London in 1962 “remain touchstones for opera aficionados and Callas cultists,” Brooks Peters wrote in a profile of Mr. Zeffirelli in Opera News in 2002. His filming of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” starring the teenage Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, thrilled millions of young viewers who had been untouched by the bard. “From Bronx to Bali, Shakespeare was a box-office hit,” Mr. Zeffirelli wrote in his memoir. Costing a mere $1.5 million, the 1968 film grossed more than $50 million.
Charles Reich, 91, the author and Ivy League academic whose “The Greening of America” blessed the counterculture of the 1960s and became a million-selling manifesto for a new and euphoric way of life, died June 15 in San Francisco after being briefly hospitalized.
“The Greening of America” presented American history as an evolution of consciousness, a three-part story with a surprise ending. Consciousness I, dating back to the country’s beginnings, reflected a Jeffersonian society of individualism, virtue and suspicion of government. Consciousness II, which matured in the 20th century, believed in the “organization,” in technology and government and big business. “Insanity, artificiality and untruth are the commonplace stuff of the Corporate State,” Reich wrote.The uprisings of the 1960s marked the dawn of Consciousness III, the triumph of compassion and imagination, an awakening enabled by sex, drugs and rock music.
Garry Burrell, 81, who with fellow engineer Dr. Min H. Kao founded Garmin, the navigational device company whose products can direct pilots in fog, prevent hikers from getting lost and help insomniacs track their sleep, died June 12 at his home in Spring Hill, Kansas. The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease.
Burrell was vice president of engineering for King Radio, an avionics company that made navigational devices, when he recruited Dr. Min H. Kao from Magnavox, another defense contractor. Kao had been instrumental in developing a GPS receiver for aircraft. At the time, the government was opening up its Global Positioning System for civilian use, and the two men saw possibilities. With $4 million and an office with two folding chairs, they started what would become the world’s largest maker of consumer navigation devices.
Even with the advent of wireless communications and smartphones, Garmin remained competitive by relying on technological advances, creative products and satellite links, which can widely cover areas that Wi-Fi can’t reach.
Peter Whitehead, 82, a British filmmaker whose movies both captured and helped define that moment in time labeled the Swinging ’60s, replete with early footage of the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and other rock groups, died June 10 in East London. The cause multiple organ failure after a long illness.
Whitehead began drawing attention in film circles when he took his camera to a 1965 festival at Royal Albert Hall in London that featured both British and American poets, including Adrian Mitchell, Michael Horovitz and Allen Ginsberg. The resulting film, “Wholly Communion,” captured what turned out to be a seminal event in the emerging counterculture movement.
It also earned him an invitation to accompany the Rolling Stones on a tour of Ireland, resulting in an hourlong documentary, “Charlie Is My Darling” (1966), as well as some short promotional films that anticipated music videos. It was the start of his deep association with rock music and the exploration of the madness of celebrity.
Jim Pike, 82, co-founder and lead singer of The Lettermen, whose lush vocal harmonies made the Grammy-nominated trio one of the most popular vocal groups of the 1960s, died June 9 from complications of Parkinson’s disease at home in Prescott, Arizona. Mr. Pike and Bob Engemann, a college buddy from Brigham Young University, formed The Lettermen in Los Angeles in 1961 with fellow singer Tony Butala. Later that year, the group had its first hit with the Grammy-nominated “The Way You Look Tonight,” which peaked at No. 13 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The group would place 19 more songs on Billboard charts in the next 10 years. Two made the Top 10, “When I Fall in Love” and the medley “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, 84, medical doctor who founded and led a 47-year-long study that identified sex differences in the risk factors for major diseases of aging, died on June 9 at her home in the La Jolla section of San Diego. The cause was cerebral small vessel disease
Barrett-Connor’s project was called the Rancho Bernardo Study of Healthy Aging, named for the San Diego suburb where its more than 6,000 participants had originally lived. It was begun in the early 1970s as part of a dozen group studies on preventing heart disease. The study led to insights into the biology of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone health and menopause.
Barrett-Connor, then an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, was the only one who kept the study going beyond its initial funding — for decades. It was testament to her persistence and ability to get things done on a shoestring, said a former colleague, Cedric Garland, a professor emeritus at the university.
William “Bill” Bain Jr., 88, Seattle architect, who gave Seattle some of its most recognizable buildings, died June 8 surrounded by his family, but not before leaving a trail of influence mapped through the city: Pacif Place, Two Union Square, Washington Mutual Tower, Seattle Center, Rainier Tower, to name a few.
As Seattle began to emerge as a technological hub for entrepreneurs and big thinkers, Mr. Bain sought to build a city that could keep up with the seemingly outsized effect of the technology industry as it continued to grow. “He was not just interested in the building, but in the sites around the building. And how to make a great city, not just a great building,” Bain’s colleague David Yuan said.
Bain was also keenly interested in keeping the bones of historic Seattle intact. He led the restoration of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel and the Paramount Theatre, two buildings that were Seattle icons before he was born.
“He was very visionary in saving cultural icons,” said Susan Jones, who worked with him at NBBJ. “He understood the importance of layers of history.”
Anthony Price, 90, whose string of espionage novels, rich in historical references and complex characters, drew comparisons to the work of John le Carré, died May 30 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in London. His first spy novel, “The Labyrinth Makers,” came out in 1970. “The Labyrinth Makers” was the first of 19 novels featuring David Audley, an analyst for the British secret service, who was often the protagonist but sometimes a secondary figure.
Seattle Times staff and news services