PASSINGS: Sebastian Adler, Joyce Howard, Stephen J. Solarz, Peter Hofmann, Jean Cione


Former San Diego

art museum director

Sebastian “Lefty” Adler, 78, who elevated the reputation of what is now the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art during the decade he was its director, died of natural causes Monday at his home in Temple City, said his wife, Janet.

With an eye for emerging minimalists, he helped build a museum collection from 1973 to 1983 that was both hip and up-to-date at the institution that was then in La Jolla, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in 1999.


He was an early U.S. champion of Piero Manzoni, an Italian conceptual artist, and Arman, a French proto-Pop artist, and many others, said Jay Belloli, former director of gallery programs at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena.

“Fewer museums focused on contemporary art in those days,” Belloli said, “and he took chances other museum directors would not take.”

Born in 1932 in Chicago, Adler later lived in Wisconsin, where his father owned a mink farm.

Adler served in the Air Force in the early 1950s and earned a bachelor’s degree in art in 1958 at the University of Minnesota.

In the mid-1960s, Adler served as director of the Wichita Art Museum, and after four years took the same position at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston before coming to California.

Known as talented but difficult, Adler was fired by the La Jolla museum’s board after a decade, largely for the controversial way he dealt with people, according to a 1984 Union-Tribune article.

A father of three, Adler became an art consultant and moved to Temple City in 2000.


British film, stage

actress and writer

British film actress Joyce Howard, 88, who co-starred with James Mason in the 1940s thrillers “Terror House” and “They Met in the Dark,” died of natural causes Nov. 23 in Santa Monica, her family said.

Born in 1922 in London, she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and soon was acting on stage.

She made more than a dozen films from 1941 to 1950, playing the title role in “Mrs. Fitzherbert” and appearing as a determined young woman who joins the military in “The Gentle Sex.”

Throughout World War II, she continued to perform in the London theater, even as the city was bombed, her family said.

After marrying actor Basil Sydney in the 1940s, Howard left acting to raise their three children and turned to writing plays. She also wrote the novels “Two Persons Singular” (1960) and “A Private View” (1961).

After a divorce, she had a brief marriage to Joel Shor, an American psychoanalyst, and moved to Malibu in the early 1960s.

To support her family as a single mother, she went to work in the movie industry as a story analyst and eventually became an executive story editor for Paramount Television responsible for property acquisition and development.


Nine-term N.Y.


Stephen J. Solarz, 70, a nine-term Democratic congressman from New York who was an influential voice in U.S. foreign policy, died Monday at a hospital in Washington, D.C., after battling esophageal cancer, his family said.

In Congress, where he was first elected in 1974, Solarz tackled foreign affairs with gusto. He was an ardent supporter of Israel and traveled extensively, making a historic trip to North Korea in 1980 that marked the first visit there by a U.S. official since the end of Korean War hostilities in 1953.

In the 1980s, Solarz helped lead the charge to disclose the fiscal wrongdoings of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and made headlines exposing Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos’ thousands of pairs of shoes.

Solarz parted ways with many Democrats because of his support of the 1991 Gulf War.

The New York City native lost his seat in a 1992 redistricting and failed in his bid to win a 10th term in a newly drawn district.

After the congressman’s defeat, President Clinton appointed Solarz to head the Central Asian-American Enterprise Fund, promoting private-sector development.

Solarz also worked as a consultant and was a member of the International Crisis Group, an organization that works to prevent global conflict.

Born Sept. 12, 1940, Solarz earned a bachelor’s degree at Brandeis University and a master’s in public law and government at Columbia University.


German tenor known

for Wagner operas

Peter Hofmann, 66, a German tenor who became famous for his performances of Richard Wagner operas, died Tuesday at a hospital in Wunsiedel in Bavaria. He had Parkinson’s disease.

Hofmann made his name performing at the annual Bayreuth festival celebrating the music of Richard Wagner and toured stages around the world, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the San Francisco Opera and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Los Angeles Music Center.

His international breakthrough came in 1976, when he played Siegmund in Wagner’s “Ring” cycle at Bayreuth.

Starting in 1990, he starred 300 times in the German version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Phantom of the Opera,” performed in Hamburg. He also was the host of a TV show in Germany and performed Elvis Presley songs on a tour across Europe.

Jean Cione, a former pitcher for the Rockford Peaches of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s and ‘50s and a professor of sports medicine who became the first athletic director for women’s sports at Eastern Michigan University, died Nov. 22 in Bozeman, Mont., where she had retired. She was 82.