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]

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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]

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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.

TIME obituary

Creator of the Pet Rock, Gary Dahl, Dies at Age 78

Product shot of Pet Rock, fad from mid-1
Al Freni—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Product shot of Pet Rock, fad from mid-1970s, displayed w. its own carrying case.

Gary Dahl's invention of the pet rock made him a millionaire after it went on sale in 1975.

Gary Dahl, the creator of the Pet Rock—”one of the most ridiculously successful marketing schemes ever,” Newsweek once said—died at age 78 on March 23.

Dahl first came up with the concept as joke while working as a freelance copywriter, but the idea of a minimal-effort “pet” and its clever packaging resonated with the times—and quickly made him a millionaire after the rocks went on sale for $3.95 apiece in 1975, the New York Times reports. “People are so damn bored, tired of all their problems,” Dahl told People that year. “This takes them on a fantasy trip—you might say we’ve packaged a sense of humor.”

Dahl eventually came to regret the invention, however, and returned to advertising later in life: despite a trademarked name, knock-off businesses flourished; two of his original investors sued him in the late 1970s, and he paid a six-figure judgment; his subsequent inventions, like the Original Sand Breeding kit, failed to take off in the way Pet Rocks had; and aspiring inventors steadily flocked to him seeking advice. “Sometimes I look back and wonder if my life wouldn’t have been simpler if I hadn’t done it,” he told the AP in 1988.

[NYT]

TIME Accident

Man Killed by Mother-in-Law’s Falling Headstone at Pennsylvania Cemetery

He will be buried close to where he died

An elderly man visiting his mother-in-law’s gravesite in a Pennsylvania cemetery was killed by her tumbling headstone on Monday.

Stephen Woytack, 74, was fatally crushed at St. Joseph Cemetery in Throop while adorning the grave for Easter, according to ABC affiliate WNEP.

“It happened so quickly,” his wife Lucy Woytack, who was with him at the time, told the Times-Tribune.

Woytack used to visit the cemetery with his wife annually and was known to the caretaker staff.

“Usually, I come down and talk to them right away; [but] I went around the other end to start picking up the Christmas ornaments, and [his wife] came running up, ‘Help me, the stone fell on Stephen,’” said cemetery caretaker Ed Kubilus.

Headstones are known to occasionally shift in springtime due to the seasonal thaw and dampness of the ground.

“It is unimaginable to think that a visit of a faithful couple to the grave of loved ones in anticipation of the celebration of Easter could have ended in such a tragic manner,” said Bishop Joseph Bambera. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and his family.”

Woytack will be buried near his mother-in-law at the cemetery, not far from where the headstone struck him.

[WNEP]

TIME Singapore

Global Leaders Pay Respects After the Passing of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore Obit Lee Kuan Yew
Joseph Nair — AP A live broadcast by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the death of his father is watched in a reception area at a hospital where the city-state's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew passed away on March 23, 2015, in Singapore

The nation’s architect was lauded for being a visionary and fostering relations between Asia and the U.S.

Messages of condolence flooded in from the East and the West on Monday as the world paid tribute to Singapore’s founding father and first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, following the former strongman’s death at the age of 91.

Lee died in the early hours of Monday morning local time at Singapore General Hospital, after being treated for severe pneumonia and then an infection since his initial admission over a month ago.

The former head of government has been largely credited with fostering the environment that allowed the former British colony to transform into a flourishing bastion of international business and innovation.

“The first of our founding fathers is no more. He inspired us, gave us courage, kept us together, and brought us here. He fought for our independence, built a nation where there was none, and made us proud to be Singaporeans,” said Lee’s son and serving Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during a televised address. “We won’t see another man like him.”

Flags were at half-mast across the city-state as Lee’s compatriots began observing a week of official mourning. A state funeral has been scheduled for March 29.

During his time as head of government, Lee was also viewed as an adroit statesman who helped foster ties and understanding between Western powers and rising nation-states across Asia.

“Minister Mentor Lee’s views and insights on Asian dynamics and economic management were respected by many around the world, and no small number of this and past generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development,” said U.S. President Barack Obama in a statement.

Former President George H.W. Bush echoed these sentiments. “I will always be proud that Lee Kuan Yew was my friend,” he said. “I respected his effective leadership of his wonderful, resilient and innovative country in ways that lifted living standards without indulging a culture of corruption. I was also proud of the progress Singapore and the United States achieved together as partners. Because of the example set by Lee Kuan Yew’s singular leadership, let me add I am confident that the future will be bright for Singapore.”

Chinese Foreign Minister spokesperson Hong Lei described Lee as the bedrock of the Sino-Singaporean relationship and a visionary on the continent.

“Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is a uniquely influential statesman in Asia and a strategist boasting oriental values and international vision,” said Lei.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Lee was both a “far-sighted statesman” and “a lion among leaders.”

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia called Lee “a close friend of Indonesia and renowned as the founding father of modern Singapore.”

“As a great leader and a statesman who truly loved his people, he was also known as an influential political figure in Asia,” he added. “Under his leadership, Singapore has succeeded in transforming itself into a major economic hub for the Asian region and stands in equal footing to other developed nations of the world.”

Amid the tributes, advocacy groups also cautioned against ignoring the strongman’s authoritarianism and checkered record on human rights in the wake of his death.

“Singapore still is, for all intents and purposes, a one-party state where political opponents are targeted and contrary views muzzled — and that too is a part of Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy that many of the new generation of Singaporeans are none too happy about,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

In his homeland, though, the overriding feeling was one of mourning a beloved patriarch.

— With reporting by Yenni Kwok

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