TIME obituary

Actress and Comedian Anne Meara, Mom of Ben Stiller, Dies at 85

Anne Meara attends the 2011 Players Foundation for Theatre Education Hall of Fame Inductions at The Players Club on May 1, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Anne Meara;
Dave Kotinsky—Getty Images Anne Meara at the 2011 Players Foundation for Theatre Education Hall of Fame Inductions at The Players Club in New York City on May 1, 2011.

Survived by her husband, two children and several grandchildren

Actress and comedian Anne Meara, who gained fame as half of the comedy team Stiller & Meara and went on to star in TV and film, has died. She was 85.

Her husband, Jerry Stiller, and son Ben Stiller say Meara died Saturday. No other details were provided.

The Stiller family released a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday describing Jerry Stiller as Meara’s “husband and partner in life.”

“The two were married for 61 years and worked together almost as long,” the statement said.

The couple performed as Stiller & Meara on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other programs in the 1960s and won awards for the radio and TV commercials they made together.

Read the rest of the story at NBCNews.com.

TIME remembrances

‘King of the Blues’ Legend B.B. King Dead in Las Vegas at Age 89, His Attorney Says

The onetime farmhand brought new fans to the blues and influenced a generation of musicians

(LAS VEGAS) — B.B. King, whose scorching guitar licks and heartfelt vocals made him the idol of generations of musicians and fans while earning him the nickname King of the Blues, died late Thursday at home in Las Vegas. He was 89.

His attorney, Brent Bryson, told The Associated Press that King died peacefully in his sleep at 9:40 p.m. PDT. He said funeral arrangements were underway.

Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg confirmed the death.

King’s eldest surviving daughter Shirley King of the Chicago area said she was upset that she didn’t have a chance to see her father before he died.

Although he had continued to perform well into his 80s, the 15-time Grammy winner suffered from diabetes and had been in declining health during the past year. He collapsed during a concert in Chicago last October, later blaming dehydration and exhaustion. He had been in hospice care at his Las Vegas home.

For most of a career spanning nearly 70 years, Riley B. King was not only the undisputed king of the blues but a mentor to scores of guitarists, who included Eric Clapton, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall and Keith Richards. He recorded more than 50 albums and toured the world well into his 80s, often performing 250 or more concerts a year.

King played a Gibson guitar he affectionately called Lucille with a style that included beautifully crafted single-string runs punctuated by loud chords, subtle vibratos and bent notes.

The result could bring chills to an audience, no more so than when King used it to full effect on his signature song, “The Thrill is Gone.” He would make his guitar shout and cry in anguish as he told the tale of forsaken love, then end with a guttural shouting of the final lines: “Now that it’s all over, all I can do is wish you well.”

His style was unusual. King didn’t like to sing and play at the same time, so he developed a call-and-response between him and Lucille.

“Sometimes I just think that there are more things to be said, to make the audience understand what I’m trying to do more,” King told The Associated Press in 2006. “When I’m singing, I don’t want you to just hear the melody. I want you to relive the story, because most of the songs have pretty good storytelling.”

A preacher uncle taught him to play, and he honed his technique in abject poverty in the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of the blues.

“I’ve always tried to defend the idea that the blues doesn’t have to be sung by a person who comes from Mississippi, as I did,” he said in the 1988 book “Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music.”

“People all over the world have problems,” he said. “And as long as people have problems, the blues can never die.”

Fellow travelers who took King up on that theory included Clapton, the British-born blues-rocker who collaborated with him on “Riding With the King,” a best-seller that won a Grammy in 2000 for best traditional blues album.

Singer Smokey Robinson praised the music legend.

“The world has physically lost not only one of the greatest musical people ever but one of the greatest people ever. Enjoy your eternity,” Robinson said.

Still, the Delta’s influence was undeniable. King began picking cotton on tenant farms around Indianola, Mississippi, before he was a teenager, being paid as little as 35 cents for every 100 pounds, and was still working off sharecropping debts after he got out of the Army during World War Two.

“He goes back far enough to remember the sound of field hollers and the cornerstone blues figures, like Charley Patton and Robert Johnson,” ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons once told Rolling Stone magazine.

King got his start in radio with a gospel quartet in Mississippi, but soon moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where a job as a disc jockey at WDIA gave him access to a wide range of recordings. He studied the great blues and jazz guitarists, including Django Reinhardt and T-Bone Walker, and played live music a few minutes each day as the “Beale Street Blues Boy,” later shortened to B.B.

Through his broadcasts and live performances, he quickly built up a following in the black community, and recorded his first R&B hit, “Three O’Clock Blues,” in 1951.

He began to break through to white audiences, particularly young rock fans, in the 1960s with albums like “Live at the Regal,” which would later be declared a historic sound recording worthy of preservation by the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.

He further expanded his audience with a 1968 appearance at the Newport Folk Festival and when he opened shows for the Rolling Stones in 1969.

King was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and received the Songwriters Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush, gave a guitar to Pope John Paul II and had President Barack Obama sing along to his “Sweet Home Chicago.”

Other Grammys included best male rhythm ‘n’ blues performance in 1971 for “The Thrill Is Gone,” best ethnic or traditional recording in 1982 for “There Must Be a Better World Somewhere” and best traditional blues recording or album several times. His final Grammy came in 2009 for best blues album for “One Kind Favor.”

Through it all, King modestly insisted he was simply maintaining a tradition.

“I’m just one who carried the baton because it was started long before me,” he told the AP in 2008.

Born Riley B. King on Sept. 16, 1925, on a tenant farm near Itta Bena, Mississippi, King was raised by his grandmother after his parents separated and his mother died. He worked as a sharecropper for five years in Kilmichael, an even smaller town, until his father found him and took him back to Indianola.

“I was a regular hand when I was 7. I picked cotton. I drove tractors. Children grew up not thinking that this is what they must do. We thought this was the thing to do to help your family,” he said.

When the weather was bad and he couldn’t work in the cotton fields, he walked 10 miles to a one-room school before dropping out in the 10th grade.

After he broke through as a musician, it appeared King might never stop performing. When he wasn’t recording, he toured the world relentlessly, playing 342 one-nighters in 1956. In 1989, he spent 300 days on the road. After he turned 80, he vowed he would cut back, and he did, somewhat, to about 100 shows a year.

He had 15 biological and adopted children. Family members say 11 survive.

___

Associated Press writers John Rogers and Mesfin Fekadu in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

TIME remembrance

Food Writer Joshua Ozersky Dies at Age 47

Award-winning food writer and host Josh Ozersky goes on a spirited journey across the country, and back in time, to explore the science, anthropology, and history of alcohol in United States of Drinking
Smithsonian Channel Award-winning food writer and host Josh Ozersky goes on a spirited journey across the country, and back in time, to explore the science, anthropology, and history of alcohol in United States of Drinking

The prolific author, former TIME contributor and meat evangelist wrote as much about why we eat as what we eat.

Joshua Ozersky, one of America’s most passionate and eloquent food writers, died on Monday in Chicago, where he was attending the James Beard Awards. The cause of death was undetermined.

Ozersky, 47, was a Beard winner himself, the author of several books on food, a columnist for Esquire and a former contributor to TIME and many, many other publications. He was also my friend. I met Josh in 1998. I was writing for Salon then, and I knew and admired his writing from around the web. He was living in Corning, N.Y., doing corporate writing as a day job, and he invited me out of the blue to get a drink in Manhattan and ask my advice on taking his freelancing full-time.

I don’t remember what advice I gave him, and whatever it was, he didn’t need it. Within a few years, he was embedded in New York’s food and restaurant culture. He was expansive, gregarious, a character of his own authoring: he wrote his “carnivore’s guide to New York,” Meat Me in Manhattan, under the name Mr. Cutlets, a pseudonym cribbed from Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener.” He got to know the people who ran restaurants and learned how they work. He was a polymath and a performer; he produced a series of web videos, appeared on TV, and created Meatopia, a traveling, growing celebration of the fatty, sanguineous vittles he loved. (I remember a very early incarnation, in the back of a New York bar, which Josh kicked off with the benediction that became his personal credo of lusty eating: “The fat is the meat, and the meat is the vegetable!”)

Josh didn’t start out as a food writer, though. He wrote about pop culture, art, media; in 2003, he published Archie Bunker’s America, a sweeping, historically astute study of TV in the 1970s. It made sense that he would turn to food writing, though. Not only did he love to eat, he realized that food was culture that you engaged with, literally, on a gut level.

When Josh wrote about food, it was personal and forceful. Sometimes that meant controversy and feuds, but it elevated his writing above trend-chasing and meal-description. (Though he wrote about restaurants and loved to discover them, he always stressed that he was not a “restaurant critic” and didn’t want to be one.) He liked what he liked, whether it was high-end restaurant cuisine or Kozy Shack pudding. Josh didn’t just write about what to eat, but how to eat, why we eat, what needs eating fills.

If a journalist is good enough, it doesn’t matter what his or her subject is. Even if you eat peanut butter on saltines for three meals a day, Josh’s work still has something to say to you. For Saveur, he wrote about connecting with his father, an unrecognized artist, over souffles and Chinese takeout ribs. When he was cropped out of a photo on the wall of Katz’s Deli, he cut a hilariously confessional video rant on the hustle for fame. He rebelled against the MFK Fisher school of writing, arguing that our popular, romanticized food-lit leaves out the truth of many people’s lived experience: “My own formative encounters with food had exactly no connection to the seasons, to romance, to good times or for that matter bad ones. I self-medicated with it.”

One of Josh’s pieces that sticks with me is a simple list he wrote for Esquire of rules for dining out. It’s practical, funny, and typically impatient with pretense (“6. Life is too short for platonic love affairs or savory desserts”). But it’s also, when you get down to it, a wise, succinct guide on how to live. It ends by addressing the question of “ethical dining” with a perfect note about morality and humility:

“Feeling ethical?” he writes. “Tip well and take home what you don’t eat. And don’t talk about your moral choices. It’s boorish and contrary to the spirit of morality. Pipe down and do the best you can. That’s all that can reasonably be expected of anybody.” RIP.

TIME remembrance

‘Stand By Me’ Singer Ben E. King Dead at 76

1961, New York City, Ben E. King
Michael Ochs Archives—Getty Images Ben E. King in 1961.

He started his career with The Drifters

The iconic R&B singer Ben E. King, immortalized by his hit song “Stand By Me,” died on Thursday. He was 76.

King was part of the popular 1950s band The Drifters, singing hits like “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “There Goes My Baby” and “This Magic Moment,” all of which continue to be mainstays on oldies radio stations. The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

King decided to quit the group over a contract dispute—the group’s management paid the performers only $100 a week, despite their massive success. He went solo in the early ’60s and had a huge success in “Stand By Me,” which climbed the charts again more than two decades later when a movie by the same name debuted.

Writing about the song in a 2013 article, he said, “I still perform it in all my shows. I’ll do it as long as I’m breathing. I’m so proud it has stood the test of time.”

[BBC]

TIME remembrances

Everybody Loves Raymond Child Star Sawyer Sweeten Has Committed Suicide

8th Annual TV Land Awards - Arrivals
Jordan Strauss—Invision/AP Sawyer Sweeten, Madylin Sweeten and Sullivan Sweeten, left to right, arrives at 8th Annual TV Land Awards at Sony Studios on April 17, 2010, in Los Angeles, Calif.

He was just 19

Everybody Loves Raymond child star Sawyer Sweeten took his own life at his family’s Texas home on Thursday, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which cited a family statement. He was just 19.

“This morning a terrible family tragedy has occurred,” Sweeten’s family said. “We are devastated to report that our beloved brother, son, and friend, Sawyer Sweeten, took his own life.”

Sweeten appeared in the television comedy Everybody Loves Raymond from 1996 to 2005. He starred as Geoffrey Barone alongside his twin brother from the tender age of just 16 months. The popular sitcom, starring Ray Romano, centered on an oddball family living on Long Island.

Sweeten’s sister Madylin, who played Romano’s on-screen daughter Ally Barone, urged the public in a Facebook note “to reach out to the ones you love,” adding, “Let them have no doubt of what they mean to you.”

[THR]

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Design

Designer Who Created the Iconic ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ Sign Has Died

Tourists take pictures on Feb 12, 2009 in front of the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" neon sign in Las Vegas. Betty Willis, the woman who designed the iconic neon sign that has welcomed countless visitors to Las Vegas since 1959 has died.
Jae C. Hong—AP Tourists take pictures on Feb 12, 2009 in front of the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" neon sign in Las Vegas. Betty Willis, the woman who designed the iconic neon sign that has welcomed countless visitors to Las Vegas since 1959 has died.

Betty Willis was 91

Nevada graphic designer Betty Willis, who created the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign that became a globally recognized icon of hedonism, died Monday at age 91, according to the Neon Museum.

Her design, gifted to Las Vegas in 1959, is emblematic of Googie architecture, with its characteristic futuristic motifs. Although the sign is formally owned by the Young Electric Sign Co., its image remains perennially in the public domain, with reprints adorning all manner of Vegas memorabilia from coffee mugs to T-shirts.

“Visitors see the sign with the twinkle in it and know they’ve got a license to enjoy themselves,” former Las Vegas mayor Oscar B. Goodman told the New York Times in 2005.

Willis was brought up outside Las Vegas and worked at Western Neon in 1952, after attending school in Los Angeles in 1952. “We thought the town was fabulous, so we added the word,” she once said.

TIME obituary

Prominent Chicago Chef Homaro Cantu Dead at 38

Chef Homaro Cantu in 2010.
Amy Sussman—Getty Images Chef Homaro Cantu in 2010.

He was found in a building where he planned to open a brewery

Chicago chef Homaro Cantu, whose scientific approach to food made him a star in the city’s dining scene, has died at age 38 in what police say appears to be a suicide.

His body was found in the building where he planned to open a brewery, the Chicago Tribune reports. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Cantu was an owner of Moto, one of the country’s most prominent restaurants in the field of molecular gastronomy. He said his family’s homelessness during his childhood inspired him to tackle issues of hunger and nutrition creatively, experimenting with edible paper and miracle berries, which turn sour foods sweet. He started a lab in the basement of Moto and dreamed of creating hangover-free beer and vegan eggs.

“I think [I’m] a product developer first and foremost now,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2012. “I was just taught very early that if I didn’t solve problems, I was headed for a very dark path.”

In March, an investor in Moto and another now-closed restaurant of Cantu’s sued him, alleging that he never received his share of profits and that Cantu used restaurant funds for personal expenses and the promotion of his The Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook, the New York Times reports.

Cantu’s friends mourned his sudden death as word spread on Tuesday.

“I don’t think there’s anybody like Omar,” longtime friend and chef Michael Taus of the restaurant Taus Authentic told NBC Chicago. “I mean, he was shooting for the moon. He didn’t know the word, ‘No,’ and he was just always experimenting. He was a mad scientist.”

[Chicago Tribune]

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME portfolio

Remembering Lars Tunbjörk: Legendary Color Photographer of the Absurd

Celebrated photographer Lars Tunbjörk died on April 8

“Come closer to the common mystery.
Attend to the ordinary…
It is the wisdom that sees the ordinary with amazement.”
Lao Tzu’s Tao-Te-Ching, c 400BC/f.Kr.
—from Office (Editions Journal, 2002) by Lars Tunbjörk

Lars Tunbjörk, who died on April 8, originated from Boras, Sweden, a place that inspired most of his life’s work and set him on a path to become one of the most influential visionaries in contemporary color photography.

Early in his career Tunbjörk, born in 1956, was inspired by the Swedish masters such as Christer Stromholm. But, he soon discovered his own style by taking a cue from the American photographers of the 1970s like Stephen Shore and William Eggleston. While leaving behind his black and white photography to create his signature ultra-vibrant color documentary work, he produced a record of Swedish society and the ironies of modern life around the world.

His early series Landet Utom Sig (Country Beside Itself) shot in 1993, was an incisive depiction of contemporary European life on holiday and launched his lifelong pursuit of the absurd incongruities of our society’s pursuit of pleasure and later looked at the landscape of the office to document our work/life imbalances.

Tunbjork’s work is best experienced in the photo book format. He used the medium in innovative ways to build loose narratives and to showcase his extraordinary projects. He released more than 10 photobooks, which include Home (Steidl, 2003) and Vinter (Steidl, 2007). With the now rare book Office (Editions Journal, 2002), he came to preeminence, with Martin Parr and Gerry Badger describing him as “an acute observer of modern life”.

His photographs belong to many major collections of museums from the Museum of Modern Art in New York and in Stockholm, to the Centre Pompidou and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. He was a member of L’Agence Vu for almost 20 years and worked prolifically as an editorial photographer for The New York Times Magazine, GEO, and many other publications including TIME. He was represented by Paul Amador Gallery in New York.

Tunbjork’s images amplified the most mundane and absurd aspects of modern life in a surreal way, using the hard light of flash photography, which became his signature style and influenced a generation of photographers after him. He never used light for mere effect but crafted it like a master painter to accentuate color and amplify the humdrum details of the everyday. Whatever subject he was documenting, suburbia or offices spaces, he did it in such a revealing way with a stark, clear-eyed honesty layered with an sense of dark humor.

Tunbjork also used photography to speak about the dark parts of his own life and how he saw the world. Specifically in Vinter, he photographed his own struggle out of the hollow depths of a depression he suffered after a heart attack. In the book, he paints a picture of his hometown and its inhabitants, and turns inward to reveals his own scars in a self-portrait of his chest stitched closed after surgery. Through his images, he builds a loose narrative out of the darkest season of the year and perhaps one of the darkest parts of his life to find some kind of reckoning with a place. In the book’s accompanying essay, curator Anna Tellgren says, “his photographs serve as testimonies to the state of things, but without any claims of delivering the whole truth.”

Working with Lars was a gentle experience. He was always soft spoken and patient. Lars didn’t need dramatic locations or action packed situations to make photos. He just needed to see life unfolding in the most ordinary way and, in that, he had the uncanny ability to articulate and reveal the beautiful and conflicted world he saw through his camera.

One time, I was asked by our editor to try to reinvent our approach to campaign photography during the 2008 elections and I asked Lars if he was up for the challenge. In his most humble and modest way, he accepted and went to Iowa by himself for two weeks to cover the caucus in the cold and lonely Midwest. To capture our democratic process in action each day he drove for hours and hardly slept, barely said much and never complained about the insanity of the ever-changing campaign schedule. Each night, he filed extraordinary photographs of some of the hardest people to shoot—politicians.

Watch a short video produced by Agence VU and Femis, and directed by Pierre Maïllis Laval

I’ll always be grateful for his dedication. I’ll always remember the photos he made of Rick Santorum at a Buffalo Wild Wings. That day, Dec. 30, 2011, which Lars spent driving for hours to follow the various candidates, Lars lingered after the event had ended and all the press had left. Santorum, surrounded by his staffers, stayed for dinner and Lars was able to photograph him praying over a mountain of Nachos. The resulting photography perfectly deconstructed all the artifice and craft of the political theatre and showed something real about the candidate. This was Lars’ approach — subtle and without judgment.

I remember asking him to keep an eye out for signs of the campaign in the Iowa landscape, and he sent me back a photograph of a totally empty frost covered barren field. He said, “that’s what Iowa looks like right now”. It was a beautiful and sad picture, carefully crafted as only he knew how. Lars made you feel like you weren’t alone and that someone else understood the great abyss that stands before us.

He will be greatly missed by many of us.

Lars Tunbjörk is survived by his wife and his two daughters.

Paul Moakley is TIME’s Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise. Follow him on Twitter @paulmoakley.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

TIME obituary

Comedy Legend Stan Freberg Dies at 88

Radio star, actor, author, recording artist and comedian Stan Freberg poses for a portrait on Oct. 17, 2008 in Los Angeles.
Harry Langdon—Getty Images Radio star, actor, author, recording artist and comedian Stan Freberg poses for a portrait in Los Angeles on Oct. 17, 2008.

A satirical retelling of American history is one of his most acclaimed works

Stan Freberg, the American comedy genius known for his satirical recordings and extensive credits in radio, TV and film, died Tuesday. He was 88.

Freberg died of natural causes at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif., his son, Donavan Freberg, told the Los Angeles Times.

The California native began a career spanning more than six decades by doing voice impersonations for Cliffie Stone’s radio show and Warner Bros. cartoons in the 1940s. In 1949, he entered the television business by co-writing and providing voices for characters on the puppet show Time for Beany, which aired in Los Angeles in 1949.

MORE: Read TIME’s 1999 story on Stan Freberg, ‘Maestro of the Mike’

Freberg rose to fame in the ’50s through his comic records and syndicated radio shows lampooning American popular culture. His album “Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America,” in which he provides a satirical retelling of American history, is one of his most acclaimed works.

In the decades that followed, Freberg continued voice work in several TV shows and films, including the animated Walt Disney classic Lady And the Tramp (1955) and the comedy It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

Freberg also launched a career in advertising, creating hundreds of commercials and receiving more than 20 Clio Awards for his TV and radio spots.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME Advertising

Pillsbury Doughboy Inventor Rudolph R. Perz Dies at 89

A Pillsbury Doughboy balloon float at the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York November 28, 2013
Eric Thayer—Reuters A Pillsbury Doughboy balloon float at the 87th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York November 28, 2013

The "Poppin' Fresh" creator imagined a doughboy popping out of a Pillsbury dough can

Pillsbury Doughboy creator Rudolph R. Perz died Wednesday aged 89. He invented one of the most iconic characters in modern advertising for the home baking brand.

According to General Mills, which owns Pillsbury, the chubby baking icon first debuted in a 1965 Pillsbury crescent roll advertisement, boasting 87% brand recognition three years later among American consumers. Perz, a copywriter for the Leo Burnett advertising agency, designed the trademark character while imagining a soft doughboy popping out of a Pillsbury dough can, naming his creation “Poppin’ Fresh.”

Perz used stop-motion clay action to animate the doughy kitchen helper and give him a mirthful laugh when tickled in the stomach. The Pillsbury Doughboy character has since spawned everything from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day floats to doll playsets, in addition to helping millions of American housewives and husbands bake cakes and rolls.

“We are saddened by the loss of Rudy Perz. Nearly 50 years ago, he created one of America’s most loved and adored characters, the Pillsbury Doughboy. Our thoughts are with Rudy’s family during this difficult time,” Pillsbury president Liz Nordlie said in a statement.

Perz’s funeral will be held in the Chicago area this weekend.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com