A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending Nov. 24.
Maurice D. Hinchey, 79, a former U.S. representative from New York who built a reputation as a champion of the environment and blue-collar workers over a political career that spanned nearly four decades, died Wednesday at his home in Saugerties, New York, in the Hudson Valley. The cause was frontotemporal degeneration, a rare terminal neurological disorder.
George Avakian, 98, a Russian-born jazz scholar and architect of the American music industry who produced essential recordings by Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and other stars, died Wednesday at his home in Manhattan.
Few could claim as many milestones as Avakian, who started out as an Ivy League prodigy rediscovering old jazz recordings and became a monumental industry figure and founder of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, presenters of the Grammys. Through the artists he promoted and the breakthroughs he championed, Avakian helped shape the music we listen to and the way we listen to it.
Jon Hendricks, 96, jazz singer and composer who developed an intricate style of vocal gymnastics to match his tongue-twisting lyrics and whose Grammy-winning vocal trio, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, is widely regarded as the most influential singing group in jazz history, died Wednesday at a hospital in New York City. Once dubbed the “poet laureate of jazz,” he expanded the vocabulary of jazz singing as the leading exponent of a style known as vocalese.
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Dmitri Hvorostovsky, 55, Russian baritone known for his velvety voice, dashing looks and shock of flowing white hair, died Wednesday at a hospice near his home in London, a few years after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Called “the Elvis of opera” and the “Siberian Express” by some, Mr. Hvorostovsky announced in June 2015 that he had been diagnosed with the tumor.
He returned to New York’s Metropolitan Opera three months later to sing the Count di Luna in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” and was greeted with a loud and lengthy ovation that caused him to break character. Musicians in the orchestra threw white roses during the curtain calls. He announced last December that balance issues had caused him to cancel future opera appearances.
David Cassidy, 67, the teen and pre-teen idol who starred in the 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family” and sold millions of records as the musical group’s lead singer, died Tuesday at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Cassidy announced earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with dementia.
Mel Tillis, 85, whose career as a country singer and the writer of enduring hit songs like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” earned him a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame and a National Medal of Arts — but who was equally well known for the stutter he employed to humorous and self-deprecating effect onstage — died last Sunday in Ocala, Florida.
Della Reese, 86, the husky-voiced singer and actress who spent almost a decade playing a down-to-earth heavenly messenger on the CBS series “Touched by an Angel” and became an ordained minister in real life, died last Sunday at her home in Encino, California.
Charles Manson, 83, the hippie cult leader who became the hypnotic-eyed face of evil across America after orchestrating the gruesome murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles in 1969, died last Sunday after nearly a half-century in prison.
Malcolm Young, 64, the rhythm guitarist and guiding force behind the bawdy hard-rock band AC/DC who helped create such headbanging anthems as “Highway to Hell,” “Hells Bells” and “Back in Black,” has died.
The time, location and cause of his death were not made public. Young had been diagnosed with dementia in 2014 and did not perform with the group on its recent comeback tour.
Salvatore Riina, 87, the Mafia’s murderous “boss of bosses” who was serving 26 life sentences for being the mastermind of a bloody strategy to assassinate both rivals and Italian prosecutors and law enforcement trying to bring down the Cosa Nostra, died Nov. 17 in a hospital in the northern Italian city of Parma. He had been in a medically induced coma after two surgeries in recent weeks in the prison wing of the hospital.
Steve Mostyn, 46, powerful Texas trial lawyer and Democratic megadonor who was among the nation’s largest backers of liberal causes and candidates, died Nov. 15, after what his wife says was “a sudden onset and battle with a mental-health issue.” Amber Mostyn did not specify the cause of his death, but said, “If you or a loved one are thinking about suicide, or experiencing a health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right now.”
Bobby Baker, 89, a onetime Senate page who through his close relationships with Lyndon B. Johnson and others became one of the most influential nonelected men in the U.S. government of the 1950s and early ’60s, only to be investigated for and eventually convicted of tax evasion and other crimes, died Nov 12, his birthday, in St. Augustine, Florida.