Larry Kramer, 84, the playwright, screenwriter, essayist and AIDS activist whose raging protests against the government, medical establishment and even the gay community helped bring attention to the health crisis, died Wednesday in Manhattan.
Kramer’s career as a writer, which began in the 1970s, received more attention in recent years due to the successful stage revival of his scorchingly angry 1985 play about AIDS, “The Normal Heart” and its highly touted 2015 HBO film version.
But he will likely be remembered just as much, if not more, for his key role in AIDS and LGBTQ activism. In 1981 Kramer co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York, which grew to become the largest AIDS service organization in the country. Six years later he founded the far more militant ACT UP, which staged sit-ins and heckled officials it felt were not paying enough attention to the disease at a time when it primarily struck gay men.
Sam Johnson, 89, whose almost 28-year tenure as a conservative Texas congressman was shaped by his earlier life as an Air Force pilot held captive for almost seven years during the Vietnam War, died Wednesday at a hospital in Plano, Texas. A former spokesman did not disclose the cause of death, except to note that it was not related to the coronavirus outbreak. He was the oldest Republican member of Congress when he retired in 2019.
Stanley Ho, 98, opportunistic casino tycoon who led the transformation of the tiny territory of Macao, off the coast of China, into the world’s most lucrative gambling destination, died Tuesday in Hong Kong, his family said. In building his multibillion-dollar empire, Mr. Ho sometimes fought and more often negotiated and collaborated with the powers who threatened to defeat him, including the Japanese who occupied his homeland during World War II, the Chinese criminal gangs known as triads, the communist government on mainland China and the U.S. gambling entrepreneurs who sought to turn Macao into “Asia’s Las Vegas.” The final years of Mr. Ho, the father of 17, were marked by bitter, public bickering among his 14 surviving children from four wives.
Jimmy Cobb, 91, a drummer and the last surviving member of Miles Davis’ 1959 “Kind of Blue” groundbreaking jazz album which transformed the genre and sparked several careers, died May 24 at his New York City home from lung cancer. The “Kind of Blue” jam session headed by Davis and also featuring Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and John Coltrane, released on Aug. 17, 1959, captured a moment when jazz was transforming from bebop to something newer, cooler and less structured.
William J. Small, 93, the longtime broadcast news executive who built the Washington, D.C., bureau of CBS News into a journalistic powerhouse and led CBS News’ coverage during the civil rights movement, Vietnam War and Watergate, died May 24, in a New York hospital after a brief illness unrelated to the coronavirus, CBS News said.
Small was protective of his team from the grievances of President Richard Nixon and other government officials and responsible for the recruitment of CBS’s most prominent correspondents like Dan Rather, Marvin Kalb, Eric Sevareid, Bob Schieffer and Bruce Morton. He was later president of NBC News and United Press International
Mory Kante, 70, a Guinean singer, kora player and bandleader who built a worldwide audience for music rooted in West Africa, died in his sleep May 22 after suffering chest pains earlier in the day in Conakry, Guinea. Kante came from a family of griots, the dynastic West African musicians whose songs carry news and chronicle history. He played electrified kora, the traditional griot’s harp, and fused African music with Western pop.