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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — W. Mark Felt, the former FBI second-in-command who revealed himself as "Deep Throat" 30 years after he tipped off reporters to the Watergate scandal that toppled a president, has died. He was 95.
Felt died Thursday in Santa Rosa after suffering from congestive heart failure for several months, said family friend John D. O'Connor, who wrote the 2005 Vanity Fair article uncovering Felt's secret.
The shadowy central figure in the one of the most gripping political dramas of the 20th century, Felt insisted his alter ego be kept secret when he leaked damaging information about President Richard Nixon and his aides to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.
While some — including Nixon and his aides — speculated that Felt was the source who connected the White House to the June 1972 break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, he steadfastly denied the accusations until finally coming forward in May 2005.
"I'm the guy they used to call Deep Throat," Felt told O'Connor for the Vanity Fair article, creating a whirlwind of media attention.
Weakened by a stroke, the man who had kept his secret for decades wasn't doing much talking — he merely waved to the media from the front door of his daughter's Santa Rosa home.
Critics, including those who went to prison for the Watergate scandal, called him a traitor for betraying the commander in chief. Supporters hailed him as a hero for blowing the whistle on a corrupt administration trying to cover up attempts to sabotage opponents.
Felt grappled with his place in history, arguing with his children over whether to reveal his identity or to take his secret to the grave, O'Connor said. He agonized about what revealing his identity would do to his reputation. Would he be seen as a turncoat or a man of honor?
"People will debate for a long time whether I did the right thing by helping Woodward," Felt wrote in his 2006 memoir, "A G-Man's Life: The FBI, `Deep Throat' and the Struggle for Honor in Washington." "The bottom line is that we did get the whole truth out, and isn't that what the FBI is supposed to do?"
Ultimately, his daughter, Joan, persuaded him to go public; after all, Woodward was sure to profit by revealing the secret after Felt died. "We could make at least enough money to pay some bills, like the debt I've run up for the kids' education," she told her father, according to the Vanity Fair article. "Let's do it for the family."
The revelation capped a Washington whodunnit that spanned more than three decades and seven presidents. It was the final mystery of Watergate, the subject of the best-selling book and hit movie "All the President's Men," which inspired a generation of college students to pursue journalism.
It was by chance that Felt came to play a pivotal role in the drama.
Back in 1970, Woodward struck up a conversation with Felt while both were waiting in a White House hallway. Felt apparently took a liking to the young Woodward, then a Navy courier, and Woodward kept the relationship going, treating Felt as a mentor as he tried to figure out the ways of Washington.
Later, while Woodward and partner Carl Bernstein relied on various unnamed sources in reporting on Watergate, the man their editor dubbed "Deep Throat" helped to keep them on track and confirm vital information. The Post won a Pulitzer Prize for its Watergate coverage.
Within days of the burglary at Watergate that launched the Post's investigative series, Woodward phoned Felt.
"He reminded me how he disliked phone calls at the office but said that the Watergate burglary case was going to `heat up' for reasons he could not explain," Woodward wrote after Felt was named. "He then hung up abruptly."
Felt helped Woodward link former CIA man Howard Hunt to the break-in. He said the reporter could accurately write that Hunt, whose name was found in the address book of one of the burglars, was a suspect. But Felt told him off the record, insisting that their relationship and Felt's identity remain secret.
Worried that phones were being tapped, Felt arranged clandestine meetings worthy of a spy novel. Woodward would move a flower pot with a red flag on his balcony if he needed to meet Felt. The G-man would scrawl a time to meet on page 20 of Woodward's copy of The New York Times and they would rendezvous in a suburban Virginia parking garage in the dead of night.
In the movie, the enduring image of Deep Throat — a name borrowed from a 1972 porn movie — is of a testy, chain-smoking Hal Holbrook telling Woodward, played by Robert Redford, to "follow the money."
In a memoir published in April 2006, Felt said he saw himself as a "Lone Ranger" who could help derail a White House cover-up.
Felt wrote that he was upset by the slow pace of the FBI investigation into the Watergate break-in and believed the press could pressure the administration to cooperate.
"From the start, it was clear that senior administration officials were up to their necks in this mess, and that they would stop at nothing to sabotage our investigation," Felt wrote in his memoir.
Some critics said Felt, a J. Edgar Hoover loyalist, was bitter at being passed over when Nixon appointed an FBI outsider and confidante, L. Patrick Gray, to lead the FBI after Hoover's death. Gray was later implicated in Watergate abuses.
"We had no idea of his motivations, and even now some of his motivations are unclear," Bernstein said.
Felt wrote that he wasn't motivated by anger. "It is true that I would have welcomed an appointment as FBI director when Hoover died. It is not true that I was jealous of Gray," he wrote.
Felt was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, and worked for an Idaho senator during graduate school. After law school at George Washington University he spent a year at the Federal Trade Commission. Felt joined the FBI in 1942 and worked as a Nazi hunter during World War II.
Ironically, while providing crucial information to the Post, Felt also was assigned to ferret out the newspaper's source. The investigation never went anywhere, but plenty of people, including those in the White House at the time, guessed that Felt, who was leading the investigation into Watergate, may have been acting as a double agent.
The Watergate tapes captured White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman telling Nixon that Felt was the source, but they were afraid to stop him.
Nixon asks: "Somebody in the FBI?"
Haldeman: "Yes, sir. Mark Felt ... If we move on him, he'll go out and unload everything. He knows everything that's to be known in the FBI."
Felt left the FBI in 1973 for the lecture circuit. Five years later he was indicted on charges of authorizing FBI break-ins at homes associated with suspected bombers from the 1960s radical group the Weather Underground. President Ronald Reagan pardoned Felt in 1981 while the case was on appeal — a move applauded by Nixon.
Woodward and Bernstein said they wouldn't reveal the source's identity until he or she died, and finally confirmed Felt's role only after he came forward.
O'Connor said Thursday his friend appeared to be at peace since the revelation.
"What I saw was a person that went from a divided personality that carried around this heavy secret to a completely integrated and glowing personality over these past few years once he let the secret out," he said.
LOS ANGELES—Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the widow of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry who nurtured the legacy of the seminal science fiction TV series after his death, has died. She was 76.
Roddenberry died of leukemia Thursday morning at her home in Bel-Air, said Sean Rossall, a family spokesman.
At Roddenberry's side were family friends and her son, Eugene Roddenberry Jr.
Roddenberry was involved in the "Star Trek" universe for more than four decades. She played the dark-haired Number One in the original pilot but metamorphosed into the blond, miniskirted Nurse Christine Chapel in the original 1966-69 show. She had smaller roles in all five of its television successors and many of the "Star Trek" movie incarnations, although she had little actual involvement in the productions.
She frequently was the voice of the ship's computer, and about two weeks ago she completed the same role for the upcoming J.J. Abrams movie "Star Trek," Rossall said.
Roddenberry also helped keep the franchise alive by inspiring fans and attended a major "Star Trek" convention each year, Rossall said.
"I think 'Star Trek' will always be her legacy," Rossall said.
"My mother truly acknowledged and appreciated the fact that 'Star Trek' fans played a vital role in keeping the Roddenberry dream alive for the past 42 years. It was her love for the fans, and their love in return, that kept her going for so long after my father passed away," her son said in a statement on the official Roddenberry Web site.
Born Majel Lee Hudec on Feb. 23, 1932, in Cleveland, Ohio, Roddenberry began taking acting classes as a child. She had some stage roles and then in the late 1950s and 1960s had bit parts in a few movies and small roles in TV series, including "Leave It to Beaver" and "Bonanza."
She met her husband in 1964 during a guest role for a Marine Corps drama he produced called "The Lieutenant." That same year, she was cast in the pilot for the "Star Trek" series as the no-nonsense second-in-command. The pilot did not appeal to NBC executives and a second pilot was made, although portions of the original later showed up in a two-part episode called "The Menagerie."
The couple married in Japan in 1969 after "Star Trek" was canceled. After her husband's death, Roddenberry continued her involvement with the "Star Trek" franchise. _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
"Superman can't be emo. He can't cut himself."-CP
Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:40 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
Harold Pinter, 78, the fiercely political Nobel Prize-winning British playwright who used suspenseful plots, odd halting dialogue, and working-class settings full of menace to create puzzling yet riveting drama, died Wednesday of cancer in London.
His second wife, biographer and historian Lady Antonia Fraser, made the announcement yesterday.
For most devotees of serious theater, Mr. Pinter stood as the great British playwright of his generation. That stature more or less endured though he came up in English theater with such sterling talents as John Osborne and John Arden, and ended up eclipsed by the slightly younger Tom Stoppard, who kept pounding out first-class plays while Mr. Pinter's reputation suffered from a move to A-list screenwriting and somewhat hysteric anti-Americanism.
For all that, Pinteresque - an adjective that came to describe clipped, down-to-earth dialogue, packed with disturbing pauses, whose meaning remains just beyond the audience's grasp - seems certain to remain a theatrical term-of-art.
Mr. Pinter was born in the East End of London on Oct. 10, 1930, the son of Jewish parents: Jack Pinter, a tailor, and his wife, Frances, a homemaker. After two terms at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, he dropped out and began his career as an actor, doing a BBC radio play, touring in Shakespeare, and working in provincial repertory theater.
His first play, The Room, received its initial production in 1957 from the Bristol University drama department, drawing praise from Harold Hobson, the influential Sunday Times drama critic whose support proved crucial in Mr. Pinter's career.
When he followed that offering in 1958 with The Birthday Party, about a solitary guest at a seaside boardinghouse who is threatened by mysterious antagonists, the production lasted only six days and triggered reviews in national papers that described it as "half-gibberish" and a "baffling mixture." (One began, "Sorry, Mr. Pinter, you're just not funny enough.")
Hobson countered by crediting Mr. Pinter with "the most original, disturbing and arresting talent in theatrical London."
From the start, his work attracted such mixed responses, but subsequent plays such as The Dumb Waiter, The Caretaker and The Homecoming solidified Mr. Pinter's standing. As his signature style of artful pauses and provocative silences grew on playgoers - he once defended the device by declaring, "Below the word spoken is the thing known and unspoken" - his reputation, aided by such American champions as New York Times drama critic Mel Gussow, settled into that of a modernist master.
He eventually wrote 32 plays, a novel, The Dwarfs, and 22 screenplays. As a screenwriter, Mr. Pinter specialized in adaptations from novels, among them L.P. Hartley's The Go-Between and John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman.
Among his many awards was, in 2004, the Wilfred Owen Prize for his poetry condemning U.S. intervention in Iraq. Way back in 1966, he was made a Commander of the British Empire. He also won the David Cohen British Literature Prize (1995), and the Laurence Olivier Award for lifetime achievement in the theater (1996).
Although some observers regretted the strident anti-Americanism of Mr. Pinter's later years - in his Nobel lecture, he called the crimes of the United States "systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless" - Mr. Pinter was aggressively political and activist from the beginning, if not overtly so in his earlier plays.
As far back as 1949, he refused to do his national service in Britain and was fined. In the 1980s, he formed the June 20th Society, a discussion group of left-wing writers and intellectuals such as Ian McEwan, Germaine Greer and Fraser.
Mr. Pinter married actress Vivien Merchant in 1956, and they had a son, Daniel, in 1958. The marriage ended in 1980. That same year, he married Fraser.
The elusive meaning of Mr. Pinter's plays - which became both a cliche among knowledgeable theatergoers and a kind of cachet attached to his work - struck not just playgoers but also performers, including the great English actor Sir John Gielgud. Gielgud's thoughts on the subject may well capture the way posterity will judge Mr. Pinter.
In his memoir, An Actor and His Time, Gielgud wrote about his great success in Mr. Pinter's No Man's Land: "Lots of people came round after every performance, both in London and America, complaining that they did not understand the play. 'What does it mean?' they would ask."
Gielgud's reply? "Why should the play 'mean' anything if the audience was held the whole time and was never bored? That is surely the important thing . . . it was enough for me that the audience was fascinated and mystified."
Eartha Kitt, a sultry singer, dancer and actress who rose from South Carolina cotton fields to become an international symbol of elegance and sensuality, has died, a family spokesman said. She was 81.
Andrew Freedman said Kitt, who was recently treated at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, died Thursday in Connecticut of colon cancer.
Kitt, a self-proclaimed "sex kitten" famous for her catlike purr, was one of America's most versatile performers, winning two Emmys and nabbing a third nomination. She also was nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys.
Her career spanned six decades, from her start as a dancer with the famed Katherine Dunham troupe to cabarets and acting and singing on stage, in movies and on television. She persevered through an unhappy childhood as a mixed-race daughter of the South and made headlines in the 1960s for denouncing the Vietnam War during a visit to the White House.
Through the years, Kitt remained a picture of vitality and attracted fans less than half her age even as she neared 80.
When her book "Rejuvenate," a guide to staying physically fit, was published in 2001, Kitt was featured on the cover in a long, curve-hugging black dress with a figure that some 20-year-old women would envy. Kitt also wrote three autobiographies.
Once dubbed the "most exciting woman in the world" by Orson Welles, she spent much of her life single, though brief romances with the rich and famous peppered her younger years.
After becoming a hit singing "Monotonous" in the Broadway revue "New Faces of 1952," Kitt appeared in "Mrs. Patterson" in 1954-55. (Some references say she earned a Tony nomination for "Mrs. Patterson," but only winners were publicly announced at that time.) She also made appearances in "Shinbone Alley" and "The Owl and the Pussycat."
Her first album, "RCA Victor Presents Eartha Kitt," came out in 1954, featuring such songs as "I Want to Be Evil," "C'est Si Bon" and the saucy gold digger's theme song "Santa Baby," which is revived on radio each Christmas.
The next year, the record company released the follow-up album "That Bad Eartha," which featured "Let's Do It," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy."
In 1996, she was nominated for a Grammy in the category of traditional pop vocal performance for her album "Back in Business." She also had been nominated in the children's recording category for the 1969 record "Folk Tales of the Tribes of Africa."
Kitt also acted in movies, playing the lead female role opposite Nat King Cole in "St. Louis Blues" in 1958 and more recently appearing in "Boomerang" and "Harriet the Spy" in the 1990s.
On television, she was the sexy Catwoman on the popular "Batman" series in 1967-68, replacing Julie Newmar who originated the role. A guest appearance on an episode of "I Spy" brought Kitt an Emmy nomination in 1966.
"Generally the whole entertainment business now is bland," she said in a 1996 Associated Press interview. "It depends so much on gadgetry and flash now. You don't have to have talent to be in the business today.
"I think we had to have something to offer, if you wanted to be recognized as worth paying for."
Kitt was plainspoken about causes she believed in. Her anti-war comments at the White House came as she attended a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson.
"You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed," she told the group of about 50 women. "They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam."
For four years afterward, Kitt performed almost exclusively overseas. She was investigated by the FBI and CIA, which allegedly found her to be foul-mouthed and promiscuous.
"The thing that hurts, that became anger, was when I realized that if you tell the truth — in a country that says you're entitled to tell the truth — you get your face slapped and you get put out of work," Kitt told Essence magazine two decades later.
In 1978, Kitt returned to Broadway in the musical "Timbuktu!" — which brought her a Tony nomination — and was invited back to the White House by President Jimmy Carter.
In 2000, Kitt earned another Tony nod for "The Wild Party." She played the fairy godmother in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" in 2002.
As recently as October 2003, she was on Broadway after replacing Chita Rivera in a revival of "Nine."
She also gained new fans as the voice of Yzma in the 2000 Disney animated feature "The Emperor's New Groove.'"
In an online discussion at Washingtonpost.com in March 2005, shortly after Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman won Oscars, she expressed satisfaction that black performers "have more of a chance now than we did then to play larger parts."
But she also said: "I don't carry myself as a black person but as a woman that belongs to everybody. After all, it's the general public that made (me) — not any one particular group. So I don't think of myself as belonging to any particular group and never have."
Kitt was born in North, S.C., and her road to fame was the stuff of storybooks. In her autobiography, she wrote that her mother was black and Cherokee while her father was white, and she was left to live with relatives after her mother's new husband objected to taking in a mixed-race girl.
An aunt eventually brought her to live in New York, where she attended the High School of Performing Arts, later dropping out to take various odd jobs.
By chance, she dropped by an audition for the dance group run by Dunham, a pioneering African-American dancer. In 1946, Kitt was one of the Sans-Souci Singers in Dunham's Broadway production "Bal Negre."
Kitt's travels with the Dunham troupe landed her a gig in a Paris nightclub in the early 1950s. Kitt was spotted by Welles, who cast her in his Paris stage production of "Faust."
That led to a role in "New Faces of 1952," which featured such other stars-to-be as Carol Lawrence, Paul Lynde and, as a writer, Mel Brooks.
While traveling the world as a dancer and singer in the 1950s, Kitt learned to perform in nearly a dozen languages and, over time, added songs in French, Spanish and even Turkish to her repertoire.
"Usku Dara," a song Kitt said was taught to her by the wife of a Turkish admiral, was one of her first hits, though Kitt says her record company feared it too remote for American audiences to appreciate.
Song titles such as "I Want to be Evil" and "Just an Old Fashioned Girl" seem to reflect the paradoxes in Kitt's private life.
Over the years, Kitt had liaisons with wealthy men, including Revlon founder Charles Revson, who showered her with lavish gifts.
In 1960, she married Bill McDonald but divorced him after the birth of their daughter, Kitt.
While on stage, she was daringly sexy and always flirtatious. Offstage, however, Kitt described herself as shy and almost reclusive, remnants of feeling unwanted and unloved as a child. She referred to herself as "that little urchin cotton-picker from the South, Eartha Mae."
For years, Kitt was unsure of her birthplace or birth date. In 1997, a group of students at historically black Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., located her birth certificate, which verified her birth date as Jan. 17, 1927. Kitt had previously celebrated on Jan. 26.
The research into her background also showed Kitt was the daughter of a white man, a poor cotton farmer.
"I'm an orphan. But the public has adopted me and that has been my only family," she told the Post online. "The biggest family in the world is my fans." _________________ "When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."- C.S. Lewis
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