LocalObituaries

PASSINGS: Willy Ronis, Dorothy Wellman, Guy Graham Babylon

Paris (France)Music IndustryDeathEntertainmentFranceFamilyPhotography

Willy Ronis

French postwar photographer

Willy Ronis, 99, the last of France's postwar greats of photography who captured the essence of Paris in black-and-white scenes of everyday life, died Sept. 12 at a Paris hospital, said Stephane Ledoux, president of the Eyedea photo agency.

Lovers, nudes and scenes from Paris streets, including "Bastille Lovers, Paris 1957," were the mainstay of Ronis' photographs, which reflect the so-called humanist school of photography.

Ronis, along with friend Robert Doisneau and photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson, were among France's great photographers who emerged after World War II.

Photographs of eastern Paris, where Ronis lived, were collected in a book of the Belleville and Menilmontant neighborhoods that reached cult status in France. His photos of lovers against the Paris skyline or a nude at a wash basin also helped define him.

Born in Paris on Aug. 14, 1910, Ronis studied violin, but gave up a music career to take over the family photo studio when his father fell ill.

A month after his father died in 1936, Ronis did his first reportage, a Bastille Day parade. He worked steadily until World War II, when he joined the army. When the Nazis invaded France, Ronis, born to Jewish parents who had fled the pogroms, moved to unoccupied France.

Ronis later worked for numerous publications, including Life magazine, and collected a host of honors.

Dorothy Wellman

Busby Berkeley dancer, actress

Dorothy "Dottie" Wellman, 95, an actress and Busby Berkeley dancer who was the fifth and last wife of Hollywood director William Wellman, died of natural causes Wednesday at her Brentwood home, said her son William Wellman Jr.

Born Nov. 25, 1913, in Minneapolis, she moved with her family to Los Angeles as a child. She took dance lessons and at age 14 quit school when she landed a part as a dancer in the Warner Bros. film "Show of Shows" (1929). She went on to dance in sequences choreographed by Berkeley for such films as "The Kid From Spain" (1932), "42nd Street" (1933) and "Gold Diggers of 1933" (1933).

It was while working on "Gold Diggers" that she met Wellman, a prolific director who had guided the 1927 film "Wings" to the first Academy Award for best picture. He cast her in the 1933 movie "Wild Boys of the Road" and then married her the next year.

She gave up acting to have a family and the couple had seven children, all of whom had show business careers of varying degrees. The couple remained married until Wellman's death in 1975.

Besides her son William, she is survived by two other sons, Mike and Tim; four daughters, Cissy Wellman Guydus, Kitty Wellman, Maggie Cerminaro and Patricia Lawe; 22 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

Guy Graham Babylon

Keyboard player for Elton John's band

Guy Graham Babylon, 52, a Grammy Award-winning musician who played keyboards with Elton John's band for more than 20 years, died of arrhythmia Sept. 2 at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks.

Babylon, an Agoura Hills resident who swam competitively during his youth in Baltimore, was stricken while swimming and later pronounced dead at the hospital.

"I am devastated and heartbroken at the death of Guy Babylon," John wrote in a tribute on his website. "He was one of the most brilliant musicians I ever knew, a true genius, a gentle angel -- and I loved him so much."

Born Dec. 20, 1956, in Baltimore, Babylon attended the University of South Florida on a swimming scholarship, and earned a bachelor's degree in music composition in 1979.

He moved to California and found work as a session musician. He joined John's band as second keyboardist in 1988 and four years later became lead keyboardist.

In addition to recording 12 albums with John, Babylon recorded with such artists as Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Fats Domino, B.B. King and Dwight Twilley.

Along with three other producers, an engineer/mixer, lyricist Tim Rice and composer John, Babylon shared a Grammy for the 2000 Broadway musical "Aida." In 2006, he was supervisor and orchestrator for the Broadway show "Lestat."

-- times staff and wire reports

news.obits@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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