Mort Drucker, 91, Mad Magazine cartoonist who for decades lovingly spoofed politicians, celebrities and popular culture, died Thursdayin Woodbury, New York. A cause of death was not specified.
Mad magazine was a cultural institution for millions of baby boomers, and Drucker was an institution at Mad. A New York City native, he joined Mad in its early days, the mid-1950s, and remained well into the 21st century. Few major events or public figures during that time escaped his satire, whether “Star Trek” and “The Godfather” or Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld. In large strokes, Drucker took in every crease, crevice and bold feature. The big jaws of Kirk Douglas and Jay Leno bulged even larger, while the ears of Barack Obama looked like wings about to take flight.
In addition to Mad, Drucker drew for Time magazine, DC Comics, for an ad campaign for fruit and vegetables and for the heavy metal band Anthrax, which commissioned him to design art for its “State of Euphoria” album.
Chynna, 25, hip-hop artist who first turned heads on the modeling runway and then with her talent as a rapper, died Wednesdayin her native Philadelphia. The cause of death was not specified. The rapper, whose full name was Chynna Rogers and who lived in both Manhattan and Philadelphia, was known for her solo recordings and her collaborations with the hip-hop collective ASAP Mob. Death was a recurring theme in her music, including in her album, “in case i die first,” which was also the name of one of her tours.
John Prine, 73, ingenious singer-songwriter who explored the heartbreaks, indignities and absurdities of everyday life in “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Hello in There” and scores of other indelible tunes, died Tuesday from complications from the novel coronavirus at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Winner of a lifetime achievement Grammy this year, Prine was a virtuoso of the soul, if not the body. He sang his conversational lyrics in a voice roughened by a hard-luck life, particularly after throat cancer left him with a disfigured jaw.
His openheartedness, eye for detail and sharp and surreal humor brought him the highest admiration from music critics, from such peers as Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, and from younger stars such as Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves, who even named a song after him. In 2017, Rolling Stone proclaimed him “The Mark Twain of American songwriting.”
Irene Hirano Inouye, 71, widow of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, died in Los Angeles on Tuesday The cause was not specified. Hirano Inouye married Hawaii’s longest-serving U.S. senator in 2008, when he was 83 and she was 59. She was divorced, and he had been widowed since his wife of nearly 60 years died two years earlier. The senator died in office in 2012.
Earl Graves Sr., 85, who championed black businesses as the founder of the first African American-owned magazine focusing on black entrepreneurs, died Monday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Graves launched his magazine, Black Enterprise, in 1970. He later said his aim was to educate, inspire and uplift his readers. “My goal was to show them how to thrive professionally, economically and as proactive, empowered citizens,” Graves wrote in his 1997 book “How To Succeed In Business Without Being White.”
James Drury, 85, an actor who starred as the mysterious, black-hatted and unnamed title character in “The Virginian,” one of television’s longest-running western dramas, died Monday in Houston. Drury was a frequent guest star on TV westerns such as “Gunsmoke,” “Have Gun — Will Travel” and “Rawhide” and appeared in several films, including Sam Peckinpah’s “Ride the High Country” (1962).
Honor Blackman, 94, an actress who achieved fame as a beautiful pilot with judo skills and a highly suggestive name in the 1964 James Bond movie “Goldfinger,” then went on to a long screen career in her native England and abroad, died April 5 in Lewes, in southeastern England. She was a breast-cancer survivor, having undergone a lumpectomy in 2003.
Blackman may have been unknown to U.S. audiences when she played Pussy Galore opposite Sean Connery as the dashing secret agent James Bond, but she had already become a star in Britain on television in the spy series “The Avengers” in 1962, playing Mrs. Cathy Gale, an anthropologist and martial-arts enthusiast who wore leather while saving the world from bizarre plots and conspiracies.
Ira Einhorn, 79, former hippie guru who lived the high life in Europe for years after killing his ex-girlfriend in Philadelphia in the 1970s, died April 3 of natural causes in a state prison in western Pennsylvania.
He was serving life in prison after being convicted twice — once in absentia — for the murder of Holly Maddux, who disappeared in 1977. Eighteen months later, her mummified remains were found in a locked steamer trunk in the West Philadelphia apartment they had shared. He was extradited from France in 2001, and a Philadelphia jury convicted him in 2002 of first-degree murder in Maddux’s slaying. The media dubbed him the “Unicorn Killer” because that is the English translation of his last name from German.
Arianne Caoili, 33, chess master and prominent figure in the chess world and in Armenia, where she lived, died March 30 in Yerevan, the capital, two weeks after being seriously injured in a car crash. In the insular world of chess, Caoili stood out not only for her talents as a player but also for the glamour she brought to what is often thought of as an unglamorous game.
Jean Falls, 94, a co-founder of A Contemporary Theatre and a strong-willed yet unassuming force in Seattle’s cultural and civic life for more than a half-century, died March 29. Her son, children’s books author Tor Seidler, said his mother had recently suffered two falls, followed by a stroke. She died under hospice care in her Queen Anne home.
In love with theater since childhood, Falls and her husband, Gregory Falls (who died in 1997), established A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) in 1965 and led it through its early successes and growth into an acclaimed regional theater. She performed in a number of leading roles (under her stage name Jean Burch) in ACT’s first stage productions and served as a key administrator.
In later years, Falls served on ACT’s various boards and became an enduring symbol of its longstanding artistic mission. She typically did whatever the theater asked of her, even as her sight and hearing increasingly diminished.