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NASA pioneer astronaut Scott Carpenter died Thursday at the age of 88 due to medical complications from a recent stroke, leaving John Glenn as the last living member of the Mercury 7.
Carpenter had been hospitalized after suffering a stroke last month at his home in Vail, Colo. Word of his death at a Denver hospice came from family friends and was confirmed by his wife, Patty Barrett.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden paid tribute to Carpenter in a statement: "As one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was in the first vanguard of our space program — the pioneers who set the tone for our nation's pioneering efforts beyond Earth and accomplished so much for our nation."
Carpenter was born on May 1, 1925, in Boulder, Colo., the son of research chemist M. Scott Carpenter and Florence Kelso Noxon Carpenter. He was commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 1949 and designated a naval aviator in 1951. Carpenter flew a variety of missions during the Korean War, became a test pilot and was selected as one of the Mercury 7 in 1959.
He had a special connection with John Glenn, a retired senator and astronaut who is still in good health at the age of 92. It was Carpenter who served as the backup for the Friendship 7 mission on Feb. 20, 1962, which made Glenn the first American in Earth orbit. And it was Carpenter who radioed, "Godspeed, John Glenn," from NASA's Cape Canaveral blockhouse as his colleague headed for history.
Carpenter became the second American in orbit on May 24, 1962, when he piloted his Aurora 7 capsule through three orbits. During that flight, he became the first American to eat solid food in space (in the form of energy snacks called "Space Food Sticks").
"When he went into orbit, instead of just worrying about being a test pilot, he was trying to analyze everything that was happening up there," said Jay Barbree, NBC News' Cape Canaveral correspondent. "That's why I call him the first scientist-astronaut."
One of Carpenter's discoveries pointed to the source of the mysterious "fireflies" that Glenn saw shining outside his window during the Friendship 7 flight. Carpenter thumped the side of his spacecraft and found that he could shake more of the sparkling specks loose from the capsule. "Scott discovered they were actually the moisture from the astronaut's body, which was released and dissipated outside into the cold," Barbree said.
Carpenter's splashdown generated some controversy because he overshot the designated landing zone, and it took 40 minutes for the recovery team to spot him in his life raft. Flight director Chris Kraft later complained that Carpenter used too much fuel during the flight, but Barbree said an investigation traced the fuel loss to equipment malfunction.
Aurora 7 was Carpenter's only spaceflight: He was removed from flight status after breaking his arm in a motorcycle accident in 1964, and left NASA in 1967.
In addition to his astronaut experience, the former naval aviator participated in the Navy's SeaLab underwater training program as an aquanaut. "He was just as proud of being an aquanaut as being an astronaut," Barbree recalled.
After his retirement from the Navy in 1969, Carpenter took on a number of business ventures and served as a movie consultant in the fields of spaceflight, oceanography and the environment. He wrote two novels as well as an autobiography, "For Spacious Skies: The Uncommon Journey of a Mercury Astronaut," which was co-written with his daughter Kris Carpenter Stoever.
When Glenn returned to orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1998, Carpenter said the space missions that he and his Mercury crewmates flew were part of a decades-long effort that would ultimately send humans to Mars and beyond. "All these flights will one day lead to manned exploration of other worlds outside our own solar system," Carpenter said in an essay written for NBC News. "That will not be soon. But it is inevitable."
He gave his most famous phrase a reprise for Glenn's launch: "Good luck, have a safe flight, and ... once again, Godspeed, John Glenn."
Carpenter is survived by his wife, Patty; six children, Jay, Kris, Candace, Matthew, Nicholas and Zachary; one granddaughter and five step-grandchildren. "We're going to miss him," Patty Barrett Carpenter told The Associated Press. _________________ "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
Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:57 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
Lou Reed, who took rock 'n' roll into dark corners as a songwriter, vocalist and guitarist for the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, died Sunday, his publicist said. He was 71.
"I regret to confirm that Lou Reed has died from complications following a liver transplant," his agent Andrew Wylie wrote in an email. Rolling Stone was the first to report the news.
Reed received the transplant in May. Reed's wife, performance artist Laurie Anderson, said at the time, " "It's as serious as it gets. He was dying. You don't get it for fun."
Reed was a rock pioneer who went from record label songwriter to a member of a short-lived, but innovative and influential band. "Lou Reed's influence is one that there are really only a tiny handful of other figures who you can compare to him," said Simon Vozick-Levinson, a senior editor at Rolling Stone, which first reported Reed's death. "He spoke incredibly frankly about the realities of being an artist, being a person who lived life on one's own terms. He didn't prettify things. He didn't sugarcoat things. He showed life as it really is and that's something that made him a true original, and one of our great all-time artists," he said.
Reed, violist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Maureen Tucker played their first show as the Velvet Underground in 1965.
"The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet. I've lost my 'school-yard buddy,' " Cale wrote on Twitter.
The Velvets tackled taboo topics like drug addiction, paranoia and sexual deviancy. Rock mythology has it that even though they were around only for a few years, everyone who went to a Velvet Underground concert went out and started a band. Rolling Stone ranks the group's debut album, "The Velvet Underground and Nico" as the 13th greatest of all time. And performers from David Bowie to R.E.M. and U2 have cited them as inspiration.
The Velvet Underground was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Reed "was one of the first artists to experiment with guitar feedback on record and to show that sort of ugly noise can actually be quite beautiful and moving. He also, lyrically, wrote about all kinds of topics that were taboo before he started exploring them," said Vozick-Levinson. He gave a voice to gay and transgender people in a way that had never been done before by a popular artist, which made his work incredibly important to many people, the Rolling Stone editor said.
In 1970, Reed left the Velvets for a long solo career turning out classics like "Walk on the Wild Side" and "Sweet Jane."
"People say rock 'n' roll is constricting, but you can do anything you want, any way you want. And my goal has been to make an album that would speak to people the way Shakespeare speaks to me, the way Joyce speaks to me. Something with that kind of power; something with bite to it,'' Reed told the New York Times in 1982 while promoting his album "The Blue Mask." _________________ "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
Longtime NBC announcer Don Pardo, best known as the often-heard, rarely-seen constant during 38 seasons of change at "Saturday Night Live," died late Monday. He was 96.
Pardo's daughter, Donna, told the Associated Press her father passed away at his home in Tucson, Arizona. He had moved to Arizona in 2006. "Saturday Night Live" creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels asked him to continue with the show, so many weeks he recorded his introductions from his Tucson home, she said.
Few recognized the face of Pardo, a handsome man with a strong chin and confident smile. But his majestic delivery, with its swoops in pitch and pregnant pauses, graced newcasts, game shows and television programs for more than 60 years. During shows such as the original version of "Jeopardy!," his answers to the question, "Tell `em what they've won, Don Pardo," became a memorable part of the program.
And he was an integral part of "Saturday Night Live" for more than three decades in his role heralding the cast's names to kick off each show, which led former cast member Jimmy Fallon to comment later, "Nothing is like the moment when Don Pardo says your name."
During his career, Pardo's resonant voice-over style was widely imitated and became the standard in the field. His was no ordinary voice and he guarded it closely, with cough drops always at the ready.
"My voice is my Achilles' heel," Pardo said in a 1985 interview with The Associated Press. "When I get sick, it's always my voice."
Dominick George Pardo was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, on Feb. 22, 1918, and grew up in Norwich, Connecticut.
One of his first jobs was that of ticket-taker at a local movie theater; even then, his voice was commanding.
"I'd go out there with a cape and say: `Standing room only in the mezzanine. Immediate seating in the balcony."'
His father, Dominick, owned a small bakery and had wanted his son to join the business. But Pardo followed his own dream and, after graduating from Boston's Emerson College in 1942, began his vocal career at radio station WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island.
Two years later, he met a supervisor at NBC who hired the young Pardo immediately upon hearing his voice. He moved to NBC's New York affiliate, and never left the network. _________________ "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
Tue Aug 19, 2014 6:55 pm
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
NASHVILLE -- Yutaka Katayama, Nissan’s first U.S. president, who grabbed American consumer awareness by introducing the affordable Datsun Z sports car in the early 1970s, has died at 105.
Known publicly as “Mr. K,” Katayama left his U.S. post 40 years ago and retired from Nissan altogether in 1977. But his lingering presence as an elderly, spry and sometimes critical voice from the past has continued to sustain U.S. brand interest in both Nissan’s Z cars and Nissan itself.
In the 1990s, Nissan’s U.S. sales and marketing subsidiary -- where Katayama had been president from 1965 to 1975 -- began featuring a look-alike actor portraying “Mr. K” character in its TV advertising.
News services are reporting Saturday that Katayama died of heart failure Thursday evening in a Tokyo hospital.
Katayama is widely associated with the original Datsun 240Z, introduced in 1970 in the wake of the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro’s popularity. He remained active until recently as a visiting celebrity at Z fan clubs and Datsun and Nissan heritage events.
It was also under Katayama’s pioneering years that Nissan’s fledgling U.S. retail network rolled out the iconic Datsun 510, a small but racy Japanese sedan that Katayama hoped would steal some shoppers from Germany’s BMW.
In 1960, Katayama was dispatched against his wishes to the U.S. for early market research. He considered the posting “exile” for speaking out against Nissan’s Japanese unions. Once in place in Southern California, he earned a name for himself as a Japanese executive with little patience for the cautious and conservative outlook of his decision makers back in Japan.
His career serves as a vivid snapshot of what Japan’s auto industry went through to establish itself in America.
Japan’s automakers in the late 1950s widely believed that venturing into the United States was foolhardy. Conservative managers at Nissan and other Japanese auto companies were reluctant to offer their small, typically underpowered products for America’s high-speed highway driving.
Katayama repeatedly locked horns with corporate management back in Japan, insisting that there were viable opportunities for the taking in America.
In the late 1960s, Katayama balked at the plan to market the new Z sports car in the U.S. under its Japanese name: “Fairlady.”
Nissan’s 1970s management, in turn, refused to plan for the production volumes that Katayama insisted his U.S. organization could sell.
It also fell to Katayama to sew together a hodgepodge of Datsun dealer arrangements in America. As was true for other Japanese companies who dared enter the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s, Nissan’s Datsun distribution plan was a loose mixture of independent dealers and distribution regions that did not quite add up to a 50-state retail network -- nor attempt to cooperate.
Los Angeles dealer Morrie Sage, who died in 2011, once reminisced with Automotive News that Katayama had inspired him to leave his job as manager of a local Ford dealership to become a Datsun dealer. Sage recalled that in 1969, Katayama told a room full of potential Datsun dealers that “everyone in this room will become a millionaire one day.”
Nissan Division now has approximately 1,100 U.S dealerships, who last year sold 1,269,565 cars and light trucks.
Katayama continued speaking his mind beyond age 100. After Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn resuscitated the Z in the 2000s with the 350Z and the 370Z to global acclaim, Katayama dismissed the 370Z as a “so-so” car.
In 2009, he told Automotive News that the 370 was too heavy and too expensive, compared with the nimble and affordable concept behind the 240Z.
Katayama also made no secret of his disapproval Nissan’s 1983 move to do away with the Datsun name in favor of “Nissan” as a brand name.
Nissan is now working to reintroduce the Datsun brand name in selected emerging world markets. _________________ "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
Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:31 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
[THR]- It’s only surrendering slightly to hyperbole to say that, for many people, Leonard Nimoy was Star Trek.
Certainly, Spock — the emotionless Vulcan who nonetheless acted as an everyman as often as he did a dispassionate outsider — was not only the role he was most often associated with, it is the longest-loved character inside the franchise, with Nimoy appearing both in the very first episode filmed (“The Cage,” the unaired pilot shot in 1964) and the most recent movie, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Nimoy’s was the face, or at least the ears, most commonly associated with the franchise, and the origin point for many of its most well-loved concepts (the Vulcan salute and Vulcan nerve pinch, both created by Nimoy himself) and catchphrases, including “Live Long and Prosper,” “I have, and always shall be, your friend,” and “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
While Nimoy’s relationship with Spock was a complicated one — he wrote two memoirs, the first of which was titled I Am Not Spock, the second I Am Spock — the audience’s was much simpler, and more affectionate. Through Nimoy’s performance, at once playful and cold and infinitely charming as a result, Spock became one of the most complex and sympathetic characters in Star Trek. Initially created as an alien out of necessity, to show that humanity wasn’t traveling through space alone in the far future, he quickly became a lens through which the show’s writers could explore both humanity as a whole, both as an outsider and (thanks to metaphor and implication) a representative of cultures that we had hopefully moved beyond.
When the original series became a movie franchise in the 1980s, it was Nimoy that was its backbone at its height. Spock’s death and subsequent resurrection was the narrative that thread through its most successful installments — 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home — with Nimoy himself directing the latter two.
And even when he, along with the rest of the original crew of the Starship Enterprise, retired with 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, it turned out that Nimoy’s Spock lived on, and prospered, making appearances in Star Trek: The Next Generation and J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek as the character. It was unsurprising, in many ways; a Star Trek without Nimoy felt incomplete, somehow. There was both a gravity and levity in his performance, a humor behind the stone-faced, eyebrow-raised stare of disbelief he so often employed. Star Trek, as a series, is a mixture of tones and genres, as much comedy as drama, and Nimoy managed to embody that in a way unlike any other.
(It helped that Nimoy’s voice, especially as he got older, was especially warm; he often spoke as if he was in on some joke that no-one else had gotten just yet, but without any malice or superiority that that description might suggest.)
He had a full life outside of Star Trek, of course; in addition to other roles on stage and screen (including his time on the first Mission: Impossible television series), he was a singer, a writer, a poet, a photographer and movie director — he was behind 1986’s Three Men and A Baby, as strange as that might seem in retrospect — but Spock endured throughout it all. It was something that he struggled with at times (despite a 1967 album called, of all things, Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space), but ultimately came to not only accept, but embrace.
“Given the choice, if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock,” he wrote at one point. It’s easy to see why: Spock, as Star Trek fans could see early on, was filled with many of the best parts of humanity in general, and of Leonard Nimoy in particular. Without Nimoy, the Vulcan would have had no kindness, or humor. Through Spock, Nimoy showed audiences the best of himself, and themselves, as well. _________________ "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
Sat Feb 28, 2015 6:35 am
Joined: Nov 07, 2002
Patrick Macnee, the British-born actor best known as dapper secret agent John Steed in the long-running 1960s TV series "The Avengers," has died. He was 93.
Macnee died Thursday of natural causes with his family at his bedside in Rancho Mirage, his son Rupert said in a statement.
The clever spy drama, which began in 1961 in Britain, debuted in the United States in 1966. It ran for eight seasons and continued in syndication for decades afterward.
Macnee's umbrella-wielding character appeared in all but two episodes, accompanied by a string of beautiful women who were his sidekicks. The most popular was likely Diana Rigg, who played sexy junior agent Emma Peel from 1965 to 1968. Honor Blackman played Catherine Gale from 1962 to 1964, and Linda Thorson was Tara King from 1968 to 1969.
"We were in our own mad, crazy world," Macnee told the Wichita Eagle in 2003 when "The New Avengers" was being issued on DVD. "We were the TV Beatles. We even filmed in the same studio."
But while he made his name internationally playing a smart, debonair British secret agent, Macnee was never a fan of the James Bond movies.
"I think their stories aren't that realistic," he told Salt Lake City's Deseret News in 1999. "I think the sadism in them is horrifying. ... On the other hand, the books ??? the James Bond books ??? were fascinating."
Macnee nearly lost the role of Steed because of his aversion to violence. In a 1997 interview with The Associated Press, he recalled being told by producers that he would have to pack a gun on "The Avengers."
"I said, 'No, I don't. I've been in World War II for five years and I've seen most of my friends blown to bits and I'm not going to carry a gun.' They said, 'What are you going to carry?' I thought frantically and said, 'An umbrella.'"
The talented Macnee, who managed to make the improbable weapon seem probable, later became an outspoken opponent of the proliferation of privately owned guns.
In his droll 1992 autobiography, "Blind in One Ear," Macnee noted that his early life matched that of his famed character, John Steed, in many ways.
The fictional John Wickham Gascoyne Berresford Steed was born in the mid-1920s to a noble British family, educated at Eton and served in the military during World War II.
Daniel Patrick Macnee was born Feb. 6, 1922, in London to a pair of eccentrics, and he also attended Eton, although he claimed to have been thrown out for dealing in horse race bets and pornography. He also served in the military during World War II, captaining torpedo boats that sought to destroy German U-boats in French waters.
Before he left Eton, Macnee had discovered acting. He apprenticed in the British theater, toured in provincial theaters and made his film debut as an extra in the 1938 film "Pygmalion."
At 19, he married Barbara Douglas, and they had two children, Rupert and Jenny.
After the war, Macnee graduated from drama school, but he had trouble finding work, moving to Canada at one point to hunt for acting jobs.
"I did desert my family," he admitted to the Sunday Mail. "I left when my son Rupert was 5 and my daughter Jenny was 3, and I will always feel bad about that."
Although Macnee was away from the family for a long period when his children were young, Rupert Macnee said "he made up for it later in life."
"I was a teenager when he became a TV star in England," recalled his son, a documentary filmmaker. "He was one of those dads you didn't feel ashamed to introduce to your friends. He was very cool."
He married actress Kate Woodville in 1965, and they divorced in 1969. His final marriage was to Baba Majos de Nagyzsenye in 1988. She died in 2007.
Macnee became an American citizen in 1959 and moved to Palm Springs in 1967, saying the dry desert air benefited his daughter, who suffered from asthma.
Among his films: "Hamlet" (starring Laurence Olivier), "A Christmas Carol," ''Until They Sail," ''Les Girls," ''Young Doctors in Love," ''Sweet 16" and "This Is Spinal Tap." He had a memorable comic turn in the latter film as British entrepreneur Sir Denis Eton-Hogg.
Before "The Avengers," he had appeared in such TV shows as "Twilight Zone," ''Rawhide" and "Playhouse 90," among many others.
But it was "The Avengers" that provided a permanent living for Macnee. He owned 2.5 percent of the profits, and the series continued to play worldwide into the 21st century.
He explained why in his interview with the Deseret News: "It's a very simple reason: It's extremely good. I feel very justified and delighted in seeing after all these years that the show works."
Besides his son and daughter, Macnee's survivors include a grandchild. _________________ "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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