Annie Glenn, 100, who was thrust into the spotlight in 1962 when her husband became the first American to orbit the Earth, but who shied away from the media attention because of a severe stutter that later moved her to advocate for people with speech disorders, died Tuesday. Glenn died of complications from COVID-19 at a nursing home near St. Paul, Minnesota.
At age 53 in 1973, she enrolled in an intensive program at the Communications Research Institute at Hollins College, now Hollins University, in Roanoke, Virginia, that gave her the skills to control her stutter and to speak in public.
Her career in advocacy included service on the boards of child abuse and speech and hearing organizations. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Annie Glenn Award was created to honor people who overcome a communication disorder.
Ravi Zacharias, 74, an evangelist who built an international ministry that strives to defend Christianity on intellectual grounds, died Tuesday in Atlanta after a brief battle with sarcoma, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries said in a statement. He rose to prominence as a defender of the “intellectual credibility” of Christianity, the ministry said.
Ken Osmond, 76, who on TV’s classic family sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” played the scheming, unctuous teenager Eddie Haskell, a role so memorable it left him typecast and led to a second career as a police officer, died Monday in Los Angeles.
Eddie was the best friend of Tony Dow’s Wally Cleaver, big brother to Jerry Mathers’ Beaver Cleaver. Eddie was constantly kissing up to adults, flattering and flirting with Wally and Beaver’s mother, and kicked down by his peers in the classic family sitcom that ran from 1957 to 1963 on CBS and ABC, but had a decades-long life of reruns and revivals.
Wilson Jerman, 91, who started working in the White House as a cleaner in 1957, under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and was later elevated to butler, thanks to President John F. Kennedy’s wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, died on May 16 at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge, Virginia. By the end of his career, Jerman had served 11 presidents. The cause was COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Like many longtime White House staff members, Jerman scrupulously guarded the privacy of first families. Jimmy Carter asked Jerman to work for him after he left the White House. He was also close to the Kennedys and the Bushes. But he was most proud to have worked for the Obamas.
“He was so proud to work for them and so happy to see a person of color as president,” his granddaughter, Jamilla Garrett, said. “He never ever thought that in his time at the White House he would see something like that.”
Lynn Shelton, 54, the Seattle director known for her prolific work on independent films like “Humpday” and “Sword of Trust” and on TV series such as “Mad Men” and “GLOW,” died May 15 in Los Angeles as a result of a previously unidentified blood disorder.
Emerging out of the creative ferment of her native Seattle, Shelton established herself as a pioneer in the low-budget indie film movement that came to be known as mumblecore, bringing a naturalistic, intimate and often improvised approach to films like “We Go Way Back,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2006, and her 2009 breakthrough “Humpday,” which earned strong notices at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals and won the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award.
Shelton did not begin her filmmaking career until her mid-30s. But she worked at a furious clip, directing eight features in 14 years alongside a busy career in television. Her 2011 comedic love triangle “Your Sister’s Sister,” starring Mark Duplass, Rosemarie DeWitt and Emily Blunt, won a Gotham Award for Best Acting Ensemble as well as an Independent Spirit Award nomination for DeWitt. Shelton stayed true to her indie roots, despite invitations to direct mainstream studio fare, with such small-scale films as “Touchy Feely,” “Laggies” and her most recent film, the wry comedy “Sword of Trust,” which premiered at the South by Southwest festival last year and was released last summer.
Fred Willard, 86, a comic actor known for his scene-stealing, heavily improvised work with filmmaker Christopher Guest and his Emmy-nominated appearances on the sitcoms “Modern Family” and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” died May 15 at his home in Los Angeles.
Willard was a master at playing ridiculous, slightly smarmy characters prone to rambling monologues. While other performers made a name for themselves as leading men or character actors, he excelled at playing loudmouths — sometimes for just a few minutes in a single scene — who left audiences howling and cast members breaking character. A veteran of the Chicago comedy group Second City, his genius was best shown in his improvised dialogues in films like “This is Spinal Tap” (1984).
Rolf Hochhuth, 89, firebrand German writer whose play indicting Pope Pius XII for his silence about Nazi crimes led to riots in theaters and an international furor but also greater transparency in the Roman Catholic Church, died May 13 at his home in Berlin.
Hochhuth examined the moral culpability of Pius in “The Deputy,” which had its premiere in West Berlin in 1963. Confronted with evidence of the mass killings of Jews, the pontiff had shrunk from a public condemnation of Hitler, and in a 65-page commentary that was appended to the published play, Hochhuth wrote, “Perhaps never before in history have so many people paid with their lives for the passivity of one single politician.” The play helped establish documentary theater as an artistic form able to shape public discourse.
Michel Piccoli, 94, a versatile and omnipresent face of French film who worked with directors including Luis Buñuel and Jean-Luc Godard, bringing a touch of melancholy, menace and libertine glee to movies that became touchstones of international cinema, died May 12 at his home in the northern town of Saint-Philbert-sur-Risle.
With his tall forehead, bushy eyebrows and expressive features, Piccoli was often cast as a Gallic everyman, playing tormented youngsters, wisecracking friends, amiable fiancés and lecherous pleasure seekers. Piccoli had credits in nearly 200 movies and dozens of plays and television series, appearing in American productions such as Alfred Hitchcock’s “Topaz” (1969), as the leader of a Soviet spy ring, and Louis Malle’s “Atlantic City” (1980), as a casino manager. But he made his greatest mark in France, where he worked with directors Jean Renoir and Jacques Demy, in the musicals “French Cancan” (1955) and “The Young Girls of Rochefort” (1967), and with Jean-Pierre Melville in the gangster flick “Le Doulos” (1962).