|To: Jon Koplik who wrote (9014)||2/9/2020 11:17:02 PM|
|From: Jon Koplik|
|NYT obituary on Kirk Douglas, a Star of Hollywood’s Golden Age ................................|
Feb. 5, 2020
Kirk Douglas, a Star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Dies at 103
His rugged good looks and muscular intensity made him a commanding presence in films like “Lust for Life,” “Spartacus” and “Paths of Glory.”
By Robert Berkvist
Kirk Douglas, one of the last surviving movie stars from Hollywood’s golden age, whose rugged good looks and muscular intensity made him a commanding presence in celebrated films like “Lust for Life,” “Spartacus” and “Paths of Glory,” died on Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 103.
His son the actor Michael Douglas announced the death in a statement on his Facebook page.
Mr. Douglas had made a long and difficult recovery from the effects of a severe stroke he suffered in 1996. In 2011, cane in hand, he came onstage at the Academy Awards ceremony, good-naturedly flirted with the co-host Anne Hathaway and jokingly stretched out his presentation of the Oscar for best supporting actress.
By then, and even more so as he approached 100 and largely dropped out of sight, he was one of the last flickering stars in a Hollywood firmament that few in Hollywood’s Kodak Theater on that Oscars evening could have known except through viewings of old movies now called classics. A vast number filling the hall had not even been born when he was at his screen-star peak, the 1950s and ’60s.
But in those years Kirk Douglas was as big a star as there was a member of a pantheon of leading men, among them Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, who rose to fame in the postwar years.
And like the others he was instantly recognizable: the jutting jaw, the dimpled chin, the piercing gaze and the breaking voice, the last making him irresistible fodder for comedians who specialized in impressions.
Three Movies a Year
In his heyday Mr. Douglas appeared in as many as three movies a year, often delivering critically acclaimed performances. In his first 11 years of film acting, he was nominated three times for the Academy Award for best actor.
He was known for manly roles, in westerns, war movies and Roman-era spectacles, most notably “Spartacus” (1960). But in 80 movies across a half-century he was equally at home on mean city streets, in smoky jazz clubs and, as Vincent van Gogh, amid the flowers of Arles in the south of France.
Many of his earlier films were forgettable -- variations on well-worn Hollywood themes -- and moviegoers were slow to recognize some of his best work. But when he found the right role, he proved he could be very good indeed.
Early on he was hailed for his performances as an unprincipled Hollywood producer, opposite Lana Turner, in “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952), and as van Gogh in “Lust for Life” (1956). Each brought an Oscar nomination.
Many critics thought he should have gotten more recognition for his work in two films in particular: Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory” (1957), in which he played a French colonel in World War I trying vainly to prevent the execution of three innocent soldiers, and “Lonely Are the Brave” (1962), an offbeat western about an aging cowboy.
Early on Mr. Douglas created a niche for himself, specializing in characters with a hard edge and something a little unsavory about them. His scheming Hollywood producer in “The Bad and the Beautiful” was “a perfect Kirk Douglas-type bum,” Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote.
Mr. Douglas did not disagree. “I’ve always been attracted to characters who are part scoundrel,” he told The Times in an interview in 1984. “I don’t find virtue photogenic.”
Yet he often managed to win audiences’ sympathy for even the darkest of his characters by suggesting an element of weakness or torment beneath the surface.
“To me, acting is creating an illusion, showing tremendous discipline, not losing yourself in the character that you’re portraying,” he wrote in his best-selling autobiography, “The Ragman’s Son” (1988). “The actor never gets lost in the character he’s playing; the audience does.”
‘Going Over the Line’
The only time that discipline nearly cracked was during the filming of “Lust for Life.” “I felt myself going over the line, into the skin of van Gogh,” he wrote. “Not only did I look like him, I was the same age he had been when he committed suicide.” The experience was so frightening, he added, that for a long time he was reluctant to watch the film.
“While we were shooting,” he said, “I wore heavy shoes like the ones van Gogh wore. I always kept one untied, so that I would feel unkempt, off balance, in danger of tripping. It was loose; it gave him -- and me -- a shuffling gait.”
Most people who worked with Mr. Douglas were either awed by his self-confident intensity or put off by it. He was proud of his muscular physique and physical prowess and regularly rejected the use of stuntmen and stand-ins, convinced he could do almost anything the situation required.
Preparing for “Champion,” he trained for months with a retired prizefighter. He took trumpet lessons with Harry James for “Young Man With a Horn” (although James did the actual playing on the film’s soundtrack). He became a skilled horseman and learned to draw a six-shooter with impressive speed, lending authenticity to his Doc Holliday when he and Lancaster, as Wyatt Earp, blazed away at the Clanton gang in the final shootout in “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” (1957).
The engine that drove Mr. Douglas to achieve, again and again, was his family history.
The Ragman’s Son
He was born Issur Danielovitch on Dec. 9, 1916, in Amsterdam, N.Y., a small city about 35 miles northwest of Albany. As he put it in his autobiography, he was “the son of illiterate Russian Jewish immigrants in the WASP town of Amsterdam,” one of seven children, six of them sisters. By the time he began attending school, the family name had been changed to Demsky and Issur had become Isadore, promptly earning him the nickname Izzy.
The town’s mills did not hire Jews, so his father, Herschel (known as Harry), became a ragman, a collector and seller of discarded goods. “Even on Eagle Street, in the poorest section of town, where all the families were struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder,” Mr. Douglas wrote. “And I was the ragman’s son.”
A powerful man who drank heavily and got into fights, the elder Demsky was often an absentee father, letting his family fend for itself.
Money for food was desperately short much of the time, and young Izzy learned that survival meant hard work. He also learned about anti-Semitism. “Kids on every street corner beat you up,” he wrote.
Mr. Douglas once estimated that he had held down at least 40 different jobs -- among them delivering newspapers and washing dishes -- before he found success in Hollywood. After graduating from high school, he hitchhiked north to St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., and was admitted and given a college loan.
He became a varsity wrestler there and, despite being rejected by fraternities because he was Jewish, was elected president of the student body in his junior year -- a first for the St. Lawrence campus.
By that time he had decided that he wanted to be an actor. He got a summer job as a stagehand at the Tamarack Playhouse in the Adirondacks and was given some minor roles. He traveled to New York City to try out for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and performed well, but he was told no scholarships were available.
It was at the Tamarack, the summer after he graduated from college, that he decided to change his name legally to something he thought more befitting an actor than Isadore Demsky. (When he chose Douglas, he wrote, “I didn’t realize what a Scottish name I was taking.”)
Returning to New York, he studied acting for two years, played in summer stock and made his Broadway debut in 1941 as a singing Western Union messenger in “Spring Again.”
The next year he enlisted in the Navy and was trained in anti-submarine warfare. He also renewed his friendship with Diana Dill, a young actress he had met at the American Academy. They married in 1943, just before he shipped out during World War II as the communications officer of Patrol Craft 1139. They had two sons, Michael and Joel, before divorcing in 1951. She died in 2015.
In 1954 Mr. Douglas married Anne Buydens, and they too had two sons, Peter and Eric. All his sons went into the film business, either acting or producing. Michael did both.
Eric Douglas died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and prescription pills in 2004 at the age of 46.
In addition to his son Michael, Mr. Douglas is survived by his wife and his two other sons, as well as seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
After being injured in an accidental explosion, Mr. Douglas was discharged from the Navy in 1944. He returned to New York, did some stage work and then headed for Hollywood.
He made his screen debut in 1946 in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,” playing a weakling who is witness to a murder. In a big-name cast that also included Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin and Judith Anderson, Mr. Douglas more than held his own. He was equally solid in “I Walk Alone,” a 1948 film noir in which he played the heavy in the first of his half-dozen pairings with his close friend Burt Lancaster.
First Shot at an Oscar
But it was the 1949 film “Champion,” produced by the young Stanley Kramer, that made him a star. As Midge Kelly, a ruthless young prizefighter, he presented a chilling portrait of ambition run wild and earned his first Oscar nomination.
He had to wait nearly 50 years, however, before he actually received the golden statuette, for lifetime achievement. He never won a competitive Oscar.
The doors opened wide for him after “Champion.” A year later he appeared in “Young Man With a Horn,” in the title role of a troubled jazz trumpet player modeled on Bix Beiderbecke.
In short order came “The Glass Menagerie” (1950), the screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s play about a timid young woman (Jane Wyman) who finds solace in her fantasies, with Mr. Douglas as the gentleman caller; “Ace in the Hole” (1951), in which he played a cynical reporter manipulating a life-or-death situation; and, also in 1951, “Detective Story,” based on Sidney Kingsley’s play, in which Mr. Douglas played an overzealous New York detective who invites his own destruction. Mr. Crowther of The Times wrote that Mr. Douglas’s performance was, “detective-wise, superb.”
Despite his film-star status and all the trappings that came with it -- his autobiography chronicles his many sexual conquests -- Mr. Douglas still hungered for success in the theater. As it turned out he had only one more opportunity.
In 1963 he seized the chance to play the lead role in the Broadway adaptation of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Ken Kesey’s novel about authority and individual freedom, set in a mental hospital. Mr. Douglas, to mixed reviews, played Randle P. McMurphy, the all-too-sane patient who is ultimately destroyed by the system. (Jack Nicholson played the part in Milos Forman’s 1975 film adaptation.)
A few years earlier Mr. Douglas, who had worked his way free of a studio contract and formed his own company, Bryna Productions, made waves in Hollywood when he embarked on a film version of “Spartacus,” Howard Fast’s novel of slave revolt in ancient Rome.
He decided not only to hire Dalton Trumbo -- who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy era on suspicion of Communist sympathies -- to write the screenplay, but also to put Mr. Trumbo’s name in the credits rather than one of the pseudonyms he had been using.
“We all had been employing the blacklisted writers,” Mr. Douglas wrote in a 2012 memoir, “I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist.” “It was an open secret and an act of hypocrisy, as well as a way to get the best talent at bargain prices. I hated being part of such a system.”
(Mr. Douglas’s role in Trumbo’s redemption -- although some people say he overstated it -- was dramatized in the 2015 biographical film “Trumbo,” a film he praised, telling The Telegraph of London that “its spirit is true to the man I admired.” Dean O’Gorman played Mr. Douglas.)
“Spartacus,” released in 1960, was Mr. Douglas’s third blood-and-thunder spectacle set in the ancient past. In “Ulysses” (1955), as Homer’s wandering hero, he survived legendary perils to return to his faithful Penelope ( Silvana Mangano). In “The Vikings” (1958), he and Tony Curtis were cast as half brothers who, ignorant of their blood ties, battle for control of a Norse kingdom. And in “Spartacus” it was Mr. Douglas, in the title role, who led his rebellious fellow slaves against the Roman legions (played by 5,000 Spanish soldiers).
One of the last cast-of-thousands spectacles to come out of Hollywood, “Spartacus” was notable as well for its international cast, which included Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Jean Simmons and Peter Ustinov, and for its talented young director, Stanley Kubrick, who had also directed Mr. Douglas in “Paths of Glory.” Most critics were not impressed, but the movie’s popularity has been long lasting. It was restored and re-released in 1991.
Of all his films, Mr. Douglas was proudest of “Lonely Are the Brave,” also written by Mr. Trumbo, which Mr. Douglas insisted on making on a small budget and against studio advice. “I love the theme,” he said, “that if you try to be an individual, society will crush you.”
Mr. Douglas made many more films in the years ahead, but none quite lived up to his work of the 1950s and early ’60s. There were more westerns: “The Way West” (1967), with Robert Mitchum and Richard Widmark; “There Was a Crooked Man ...” (1970), with Henry Fonda; and “A Gunfight” (1971), with Johnny Cash. “Tough Guys” (1986), a comedy, was the last movie he made with Burt Lancaster.
There were more military roles. He was a Marine colonel who foils an anti-government plot in “Seven Days in May,” a 1964 Cold War thriller that also starred Lancaster. He was a naval aviator in “In Harm’s Way” (1965) and a Norwegian saboteur in “The Heroes of Telemark” (1966). In “Is Paris Burning?” (1966) he played Gen. George S. Patton, and in “The Final Countdown” (1980) he commanded a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
As fewer film roles came his way, Mr. Douglas turned to television. In the HBO movie “Draw!” (1984), he was an aging outlaw pitted against James Coburn as a drunken sheriff. In the CBS movie “Amos” (1985), he was a feisty nursing-home resident battling a tyrannical nurse played by Elizabeth Montgomery.
Setbacks and Triumphs
There were setbacks in his personal life. In 1986 Mr. Douglas was fitted with a pacemaker to correct an irregular heartbeat. In 1991 he survived a helicopter crash that left two other people dead. In January 1996 he suffered a debilitating stroke that left him with seriously impaired speech and depression so deep, he later said, that he considered suicide.
But he fought his way back, and by March he was able to appear at the Academy Awards ceremony, speaking haltingly, to accept an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement.
By then he could add that statuette to his other lifetime awards: the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented by President Jimmy Carter just days before Mr. Carter left office in 1981, and a Kennedy Center Honors award, presented in 1994 by President Bill Clinton.
In addition to acting and producing, Mr. Douglas found time to write. Besides “The Ragman’s Son,” he was the author of a number of books, including the novels “Dance With the Devil,” “The Gift” and “Last Tango in Brooklyn.” Besides his book on “Spartacus,” his memoirs include “My Stroke of Luck” (2001), about his recovery and comeback, and “Let’s Face It: 90 Years of Living, Loving, and Learning” (2007).
In his later years he devoted his time to charity, campaigning with his wife to build 400 playgrounds in Los Angeles and establishing the Anne Douglas Center for Homeless Women, for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction; the Kirk Douglas High School, a program to help troubled students finish their education; and the Kirk Douglas Theater, to nurture young theatrical artists.
In 2015, on his 99th birthday, he and his wife donated $15 million to the Motion Picture & Television Fund in Woodland Hills toward the construction of the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion, a $35 million facility for the care of people in the industry with Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr. Douglas’s comeback from illness extended to acting as well. In 1999, at 83, he starred in the comedy “Diamonds,” playing a former boxing champion who, while recovering from a stroke, embarks on a hunt for missing jewels. It was his first film appearance since his illness. Critics judged the movie forgettable, but Stephen Holden, writing in The Times, found Mr. Douglas’s “hard, gleaming performance” a saving grace.
The last films in which he starred shared something of a theme: the reconciliation between fathers and sons. One was a comedy, “It Runs in the Family” (2003), in which his son was played by his actual son Michael. The other was the drama “Illusion” (2004), in which he played an ailing father in search of his estranged son.
Perhaps, together, they were a fitting finale for the ragman’s son, an actor whose boyhood poverty and absent father were never far from his mind. “That’s what it’s all about,” he said in describing what had driven him. “That’s the core, that early part of you.”
He also reconciled himself to advanced age. In 2008, in an essay in Newsweek (“What Old Age Taught Me”), Mr. Douglas wrote:
“Years ago I was at the bedside of my dying mother, an illiterate Russian peasant. Terrified, I held her hand. She opened her eyes and looked at me. The last thing she said to me was, ‘Don’t be afraid, son, it happens to everyone.’ As I got older, I became comforted by those words.”
William McDonald and Julia Carmel contributed reporting.
© 2020 The New York Times Company
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|To: Jon Koplik who wrote (9015)||2/29/2020 12:39:25 AM|
|From: Jon Koplik|
|NYT obituary on Freeman Dyson, Math Genius Turned Visionary Technologist ...................|
Feb. 28, 2020
Freeman Dyson, Math Genius Turned Visionary Technologist, Dies at 96
After an early breakthrough on light and matter, he became a writer who challenged climate science and pondered space exploration and nuclear warfare.
By George Johnson
Freeman J. Dyson, a mathematical prodigy who left his mark on subatomic physics before turning to messier subjects like Earth’s environmental future and the morality of war, died on Friday at a hospital near Princeton, N.J. He was 96.
His daughter Mia Dyson confirmed the death. His son, George, said Dr. Dyson had fallen three days earlier in the cafeteria of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, “his academic home for more than 60 years,” as the institute put it in a news release.
As a young graduate student at Cornell University in 1949, Dr. Dyson wrote a landmark paper -- worthy, some colleagues thought, of a Nobel Prize -- that deepened the understanding of how light interacts with matter to produce the palpable world. The theory the paper advanced, called quantum electrodynamics, or QED, ranks among the great achievements of modern science.
But it was as a writer and technological visionary that he gained public renown. He imagined exploring the solar system with spaceships propelled by nuclear explosions and establishing distant colonies nourished by genetically engineered plants.
“Life begins at 55, the age at which I published my first book,” he wrote in “From Eros to Gaia,” one of the collections of his writings that appeared while he was a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study -- an august position for someone who finished school without a Ph.D. The lack of a doctorate was a badge of honor, he said. With his slew of honorary degrees and a fellowship in the Royal Society, people called him Dr. Dyson anyway.
Dr. Dyson called himself a scientific heretic and warned against the temptation of confusing mathematical abstractions with ultimate truth. Although his own early work on QED helped bring photons and electrons into a consistent framework, Dr. Dyson doubted that superstrings, or anything else, would lead to a Theory of Everything, unifying all of physics with a succinct formulation inscribable on a T-shirt.
In a speech in 2000 when he accepted the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, Dr. Dyson quoted Francis Bacon: “God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world.”
Relishing the role of iconoclast, he confounded the scientific establishment by dismissing the consensus about the perils of man-made climate change as “tribal group-thinking.” He doubted the veracity of the climate models, and he exasperated experts with sanguine predictions they found rooted less in science than in wishfulness: Excess carbon in the air is good for plants, and global warming might forestall another ice age.
In a profile of Dr. Dyson in 2009 in The New York Times Magazine, his colleague Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate, observed, “I have the sense that when consensus is forming like ice hardening on a lake, Dyson will do his best to chip at the ice.”
Dr. Dyson’s distrust of mathematical models had earlier led him to challenge predictions that the debris from atomic warfare could blot out the sun and bring on a devastating nuclear winter. He said he wished that were true -- because it would add to the psychological deterrents to nuclear war -- but found the theory wanting.
For all his doubts about the ability of mortals to calculate anything so complex as the effects of climate change, he was confident enough in our tool-making to propose a technological fix: If carbon dioxide levels became too high, forests of genetically altered trees could be planted to strip the excess molecules from the air. That would free scientists to confront problems he found more immediate, like the alleviation of poverty and the avoidance of war.
He considered himself an environmentalist. “I am a tree-hugger, in love with frogs and forests,” he wrote in 2015 in The Boston Globe. “More urgent and more real problems, such as the over-fishing of the oceans and the destruction of wildlife habitat on land, are neglected, while the environmental activists waste their time and energy ranting about climate change.” That was, to say the least, a minority position.
He was religious, but in an unorthodox way, believing good works to be more important than theology.
“Science is exciting because it is full of unsolved mysteries, and religion is exciting for the same reason,” he said in his Templeton Prize acceptance speech. “The greatest unsolved mysteries are the mysteries of our existence as conscious beings in a small corner of a vast universe.”
Freeman John Dyson was born on Dec. 15, 1923, in the Berkshire village of Crowthorne, England. His father, George Dyson, was a composer and conductor. In the family archives is an unfinished novel Freeman began writing when he was 8 years old about an imaginary expedition to the moon to observe the impending impact of an asteroid. (Later in life he probably would have devised, at least on paper, a means of heading off the celestial crash.) The boy’s reading included, in addition to Jules Verne, nonfiction by James Jeans and Arthur Eddington, British physicists with a flair for popularization and a literary bent.
After finishing high school at Winchester College, where his father taught music, he entered the University of Cambridge, Trinity College, and excelled in mathematics.
Looking for a way to serve the war effort while satisfying his pacifist leanings, he took leave in 1943 to work as a civilian scientist for the Royal Air Force Bomber Command. He was charged with using mathematics to plan more efficient bombing campaigns. Years later, in an interview with the physicist and historian Silvan S. Schweber, he agonized over what he saw as his own moral cowardice, comparing himself to Nazi bureaucrats “calculating how to murder most economically.”
Excited by the theoretical frontiers opened by wartime research on nuclear fission, Dr. Dyson returned to Cambridge and concentrated on becoming a physicist. With a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, he entered the graduate physics program at Cornell in 1947, studying under Hans Bethe, who had been a leader of the Manhattan Project.
It was while touring the United States the following summer that Dr. Dyson resolved a pressing problem in theoretical physics.
Richard Feynman, a young professor at Cornell, had invented a novel method to describe the behavior of electrons and photons (and their antimatter equivalent, positrons). But two other physicists, Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, had each independently devised a very different way. Each of these seemed to satisfy the requirements of both quantum mechanics and special relativity -- two of nature’s acid tests. But which one was correct?
While crossing Nebraska on a Greyhound bus, Dr. Dyson was struck by an epiphany: The theories were mathematically equivalent -- different ways of saying the same thing. The result was QED. Feynman called it “the jewel of physics -- our proudest possession.”
By the time Dr. Dyson published the details in 1949, a doctorate must have seemed superfluous. He was appointed professor of physics at Cornell in 1951. Teaching, he soon realized, was not for him. In 1953, he became a scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study, where he spent the rest of his career.
Dr. Dyson did not begrudge Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga the Nobel they received in 1965. “I think it’s almost true without exception if you want to win a Nobel Prize, you should have a long attention span, get hold of some deep and important problem and stay with it for 10 years,” he told The Times Magazine in 2009. “That wasn’t my style.”
He preferred to move from problem to problem, both theoretical and practical. In the late 1950s, consulting for General Atomics in San Diego, he helped design the Triga reactor, which is used for scientific research and nuclear medicine, and worked on Project Orion, which aimed to explore the solar system with an enormous spaceship powered by exploding nuclear bombs.
With the signing of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, Dr. Dyson’s dreams of reaching Saturn by 1970 were put to rest. Despite his disappointment, he came to support the treaty and, sometimes as a member of Jason, an elite group of scientific advisers, consulted with the government on disarmament and defense.
But his interests were not moored to the earth’s surface. Any advanced civilization, he observed in a paper published in 1960, would ultimately expand to the point where it needed all the energy its solar system could provide. The ultimate solution would be to build a shell around the sun -- a Dyson sphere -- to capture its output. Earthlings, he speculated in a thought experiment, might conceivably do this by dismantling Jupiter and reassembling the pieces.
In the meantime Dr. Dyson supported more conventional kinds of solar power, but he proposed that astronomers searching for extraterrestrial intelligence keep an eye out for heat radiating from occluded suns. For mankind’s own colonial efforts, he suggested the Dyson tree, altered genetically to grow on comets and generate a breathable atmosphere.
He also continued with less fanciful work. He and a colleague, Andrew Lenard, won a bottle of Champagne for proving that the Pauli exclusion principle, which states that no two fermions (electrons are an example) can occupy the same state, accounted for the stability of matter. In 1965 Dr. Dyson received a Dannie Heineman Prize, often considered the next best thing in physics to a Nobel.
Little about the world, profound or mundane, escaped his curiosity. Among his work is a short paper deriving a mathematical equation -- beautiful in his eyes -- describing the seam of a baseball.
In the late 1970s Dr. Dyson turned full force to writing. Anyone with an interest in science and an appreciation for good prose is likely to have some Dysons on the shelf: “Disturbing the Universe,” “Weapons and Hope,” “Infinite in All Directions,” “The Sun, the Genome and the Internet.”
He also entered literature in a different way. He appeared in John McPhee’s book “The Curve of Binding Energy” (1974), a portrait of Ted Taylor, the nuclear scientist who led the Orion effort, and in Kenneth Brower’s “The Starship and the Canoe” (1978). In a memorable scene, Mr. Brower wrote of Dr. Dyson’s reunion with his son, George, who had turned his back on high technology to live in a treehouse in British Columbia and build a seafaring canoe. George Dyson later returned to civilization and became a historian of technology and an author. Dr. Dyson’s daughter Esther Dyson is a well-known Silicon Valley investor.
In addition to them and Dr. Dyson’s daughter Mia, he is survived by his second wife, Imme Dyson; their three other daughters, Dorothy Dyson, Emily Dyson Scott and Rebecca Dyson; a stepdaughter, Katarina Haefeli; and 16 grandchildren. Dr. Dyson’s marriage to the mathematician Verena Huber ended in divorce. She died in 2016.
Dr. Dyson’s mind burned until the end. In 2012, when he was 88, he collaborated with William H. Press on a paper about the prisoner’s dilemma, a mathematical concept important to understanding human behavior and the nature of evolution.
In his 90s, Dr. Dyson was still consulting for the government -- on nuclear reactor design and the new gene-editing technology called CRISPR. In 2018, the year he turned 95, his book “Maker of Patterns: An Autobiography Through Letters” was published.
In his Templeton lecture, Dr. Dyson proposed that the universe is guided by “the principle of maximum diversity,” guaranteeing that it unfolds in a way that is “as interesting as possible.” Whatever its merit as a physical law, the principle goes far in describing the course of his extraordinary life.
Julia Carmel contributed reporting.
© 2020 The New York Times Company
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|To: Jon Koplik who wrote (9019)||2/29/2020 3:24:56 PM|
|From: Jon Koplik|
|WSJ obituary on Trader Joe’s Founder Joe Coulombe ..........................................|
Feb. 29, 2020
Trader Joe’s Founder Joe Coulombe Dies
LOS ANGELES -- Joe Coulombe envisioned a new generation of young grocery shoppers emerging in the 1960s, one that wanted healthy, tasty, high-quality food they couldn’t find in most supermarkets and couldn’t afford to buy in the few high-end gourmet outlets.
So he found a new way to bring everything from a then-exotic snack food called granola to the California-produced wines that for flavor compared with anything from France. And he made shopping for them almost as much fun as sailing the high seas when he created Trader Joe’s, a quirky little grocery store filled with nautical themes and staffed not by managers and clerks but by “captains and mates.”
From the time he opened his first store in Pasadena, Calif., in 1967 until his death Friday at age 89, Mr. Coulombe watched his namesake business rise to a retail giant with more than 500 outlets in over 40 states.
“He wanted to make sure whatever was sold in our store was of good value,” said Mr. Coulombe’s son, also named Joe, who added that his father died following a long illness. “He always did lots of taste tests. My sisters and I remember him bringing home all kinds of things for us to try. At his offices he had practically daily tastings of new products. Always the aim was to provide good food and good value to people.”
He achieved that by buying directly from wholesalers and cutting out the middleman, in many cases slapping the name Trader Joe’s on a bag of nuts, trail mix, organic dried mango, honey-oat cereal or Angus beef chili. He named several products after his daughters Charlotte and Madeleine and gave quirky names to others. Among them were Trader Darwin vitamins and a non-alcoholic sparkling juice called Eve’s Apple Sparkled by Adam.
He prided himself on checking out every vintage of wine from California’s Napa Valley, including Trader Joe’s standby, Charles Shaw, affectionately known as Two-Buck Chuck because it sold for $1.99. (It still does in the California stores, although shipping costs have increased the price in other states.)
“He sold a lot of better wines too,” his son noted with a laugh, recalling trips the family made to France to seek them out.
After selling Trader Joe’s to German grocery retailer Aldi in 1979, Mr. Coulombe remained as its CEO until 1988, when he left to launch a second career as what he called a “temp,” coming in as interim CEO or consultant for several large companies in transition. He retired in 2013.
Joseph Hardin Coulombe, an only child, was born on June 3, 1930, in San Diego and lived on an avocado ranch in nearby Del Mar. After serving in the Air Force, he attended Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s in business administration and met and married his wife, Alice.
A few years after graduation, he was hired by the Rexall drugstore chain, which tasked him with establishing a chain of convenience stores called Pronto. When Rexall lost interest in the stores, he bought them and had grown the chain to about a dozen outlets when the huge 7-Eleven company made a major push into Southern California.
“So I had to do something different,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2014. “Scientific American had a story that of all people qualified to go to college, 60% were going. I felt this newly educated -- not smarter but better-educated -- class of people would want something different, and that was the genesis of Trader Joe’s.”
His wife’s parents had introduced him to a world of foods previously unfamiliar to him, including fine olive oil, fresh seafood and inexpensive quality wine, and he figured things like that would be perfect for the younger audience he was seeking.
As he bargained for those products, he would sometimes come across a particularly exceptional olive oil or vintage wine, never to find it again, and he wouldn’t stock an inferior product in its place.
He eschewed promotional gimmicks like loyalty clubs or loss-leader sales, getting the word out with brief radio spots and the Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” newsletter, whose old-style appearance was inspired by another money-saving effort. He wanted to dress up the newsletter’s stories with illustrations he cut out of magazines, but he made sure he only took ones on which the copyrights had expired.
He passed such savings on not only to his customers but employees, which Trader Joe’s boasts are among retail’s best compensated, with medical, dental, vision and retirement plans and annual salary increases the company says range from 7% to 10%. Many workers have remained with Trader Joe’s for decades.
“He just had a visit yesterday from employee No. 1,” his daughter Charlotte said shortly before her father’s death.
He and his wife also became well known in Southern California philanthropic circles, contributing time and money to such causes as Planned Parenthood, the Los Angeles Opera and the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens.
In addition to his three children and wife of 67 years, Mr. Coulombe is survived by six grandchildren.
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