Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, 68, a son of sharecroppers who rose to become one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress and a key figure in the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump, died Thursday in Baltimore. He had been in poor health.
As chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Cummings, of Maryland, had sweeping power to investigate Trump and his administration — and he used it. A critical ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Cummings spent his final months in Congress sparring with the president, calling Trump’s effort to block congressional lines of inquiry “far worse than Watergate.” He was sued by Trump as the president tried to keep his business records secret.
With his booming voice and a speaking cadence that carried hints of the pulpit, Cummings was a compelling figure on Capitol Hill. For more than two decades, he represented a section of Baltimore with more than its share of social problems. He campaigned tirelessly for stricter gun control laws and help for those addicted to drugs.
Alicia Alonso, 98, revered ballerina and choreographer whose nearly 75-year career made her an icon of artistic loyalty to Cuba’s socialist system, died Thursday at a hospital in Havana. As founder and director of the National Ballet of Cuba, she personified the island’s arts program under Fidel Castro’s communist rule. In New York in the 1940s and ’50s, she was one of the earliest members of the company that became the American Ballet Theatre, helping it develop into one of the more important ballet troupes in the U.S. She was recognized the world over for the stylized beauty of her choreography and was named prima ballerina assoluta, the rarely bestowed highest honor in dance.
Harold Bloom, 89, was a prodigious literary critic who argued for the superiority of the Western giants like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Kafka — all of them white and male, his own critics pointed out — over writers favored by what he called “the School of Resentment,” by which he meant multiculturalists, feminists, Marxists, neoconservatives and others whom he saw as betraying literature’s essential purpose. His outpouring of influential books appeared not only on college syllabuses, but also on best-seller lists. He died Monday at a hospital in New Haven, Connecticut.
Kate Braverman, 70, a poet, novelist and short-story writer who wrote about extreme female protagonists and her oscillating love and loathing for the sprawling city of Los Angeles, died Oct.13 in her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, novelist Janet Fitch announced. Her books included the 1979 novel “Lithium for Medea,” “Mrs. Jordan’s Summer Vacation,” which won the Editor’s Choice Raymond Carver Short-Story Award, and “Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta,” which earned her an O. Henry Award in 1992.
Robert Forster, 78, a brooding, ruggedly handsome film actor who starred with Marlon Brando and Gregory Peck in the late 1960s, became a B-movie action star playing lawmen and thugs, and revived his career with an Oscar-nominated turn in Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown,” died of brain cancer Oct. 11 in Los Angeles.
Alexei Leonov, 85, Russian cosmonaut who became the first man to walk in space, in a thrilling feat that nearly cost him his life but raised Soviet prestige during the Cold War space race against the United States, died Oct. 11 in Moscow. The March 1965 milestone achievement by Leonov, a major in the Soviet air force at the time, enabled the Russians once again to upstage the United States in space; they had launched the first satellite, Sputnik, in October 1957 and the first manned spaceflight into orbit, with Yuri Gagarin, in April 1961.
Bruce LeFavour, 84, an eclectic American cook, died Oct. 4 at his home in Port Townsend. LeFavour’s Paragon restaurant in Aspen, Colorado, which he ran from 1965 to 1974, was a haven for counterculture royalty like Hunter S. Thompson. He later opened the storied Robinson Bar Ranch restaurant near Sun Valley, Idaho, and helped craft the early California cuisine movement at Rose et LeFavour in St. Helena, California.