PASSINGS: Charles Jarrott, Frank Chirkinian, Edward Stephenson, Mikhail Simonov, Arnost Lustig
Directed TV and film, including ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’
Charles Jarrott, 83, a British film and TV director best known for the Hal Wallis productions “Anne of the Thousand Days” and “Mary, Queen of Scots,” died Friday at the Motion Picture Home retirement community in Woodland Hills, according to Jaime Larkin, a spokeswoman for the Motion Picture and Television Fund. He had prostate cancer.
Although “Anne of the Thousand Days” (1969) was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including best picture, and “Mary, Queen of Scots” (1971) received five Oscar nominations, Jarrott was not recognized by the academy for his work on the historical costume dramas. Other films he directed included the 1977 melodrama “The Other Side of Midnight” and the 1973 musical remake of “Lost Horizon.”
Jarrott was born June 16, 1927, in London and during World War II served in the British Royal Navy after his mother agreed to let him join as a teenager. He started in the entertainment business as a stage manager and an actor. He began directing stage and television productions in England before moving to Canada, where he acted and directed.
His TV directing credits include “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” starring Jack Palance and airing on ABC in 1968, and “Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story” starring Farrah Fawcett in 1987.
CBS producer changed the way TV covered golf
Frank Chirkinian, 84, the longtime golf producer for CBS who helped turn the Masters into one of the most watched events in sports television, died Friday at his home in North Palm Beach, Fla., after a long bout with lung cancer, his son said.
FOR THE RECORD:
Frank Chirkinian: The obituary of sports television producer Frank Chirkinian in the March 5 LATExtra section said that Chirkinian produced the first PGA Championship in 1958. It was the first televised PGA Championship. The first PGA Championship was held in 1916. —
The television pioneer was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame last month, during an emergency vote after it became widely known he was undergoing treatment for cancer. He will be inducted posthumously on May 9 in the lifetime achievement category.
Chirkinian produced the first PGA Championship in 1958, at Llanerch Country Club near his home in Philadelphia, and two years later produced the first televised Winter Olympics from Squaw Valley. He is also credited with the idea of putting cameras on blimps to cover college football games.
But it was his work in golf that stood out, and at Augusta National in particular.
He produced 38 editions of the Masters for CBS, bringing the majestic fairways and greens of exclusive Augusta National to fans who could only dream of seeing them in person.
Chirkinian introduced high-angle cameras and new angles, put roving reporters on the grounds, and made sure to capture the unique blend of sounds — the club hitting the ball, the ball falling into the cup — that came to define modern golf coverage. He even changed the way scores were delivered, according to par rather than by total.
He retired from CBS in the late 1990s.
Emmy-winning TV producer, art director
Edward Stephenson, 94, a television producer, production designer and art director who won Emmys for his work on “Soap,” “The Andy Williams Show” and the 1958 live variety special “An Evening With Fred Astaire,” died Monday at his home in the Hollywood Hills, said his daughter, Tara Stephenson. He had pneumonia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Stephenson won Emmys for art direction in 1959 for the Fred Astaire special and in 1978 for “Soap” (shared with set decorator Robert Checchi). As a producer of “The Andy Williams Show,” he shared an Emmy with Bob Finkel in 1967.
He was the production designer on “Soap” as well as “Benson,” “The Golden Girls,” “Blossom” and “Empty Nest.”
As an art director, Stephenson had credits ranging from variety productions like those with Astaire and Williams to the sitcoms “Good Times,” “Sanford and Son,” “Maude” and “What’s Happening!!”
Stephenson was born Feb. 9, 1917, in Algona, Iowa. He moved with his family in the 1920s to Glendale and studied at the Pasadena Playhouse. He served in the Air Force before beginning his TV career, his family said.
Russian aircraft designer created the Sukhoi fighter jet
Mikhail Simonov, 81, an aircraft designer whose supremely maneuverable, heavily armed and far-flying Sukhoi fighter jet became an icon of the Soviet defense industry and a cash cow for post-communist Russia, died Friday in Moscow after a long illness, according to the Sukhoi Co.
Developed to counter the U.S. F-15 fighter, Simonov’s sleek twin-engine, twin-fin Su-27 joined the Soviet air force in the early 1980s and won respect in the West for its range of over 2,000 miles, its impressive agility and its ability to fly at 2.35 times the speed of sound.
It was a star of international air shows, performing aerobatics that few other fighter planes could accomplish, and is seen as a symbol of Russia’s prowess in weaponry.
The Su-27’s thrust-to-weight ratio and sophisticated control system allowed it to perform exceptional maneuvers at very low speeds, such as raising its nose and literally standing on its tail for a few seconds — a stunt called the Cobra.
When state defense orders ground to a near halt after the 1991 Soviet collapse, Simonov played a key role in winning lucrative export deals. The cash-strapped government sold hundreds of fighters to China, India and other foreign customers under contracts worth billions of dollars.
Born in 1929 in Russia, Simonov started working as an aviation engineer in the 1950s, and joined the Sukhoi design bureau as a deputy chief designer in 1970. During the following nine years he led the development of the Su-24 bomber, the Su-25 ground attack plane and the Su-27.
After serving as deputy minister of aircraft industries in 1979-1983, he was named the top Sukhoi designer and continued work on the Su-27.
Czech author survived three Nazi concentration camps
Arnost Lustig, 84, a Czech author who escaped from a Nazi death transport to make the Holocaust the main theme of his fiction, died of cancer Feb. 26 in Prague, according to a spokeswoman for Kralovske Vinohrady university clinic.
Lustig survived the Theresienstadt, Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. In 1945, he escaped from a train that was transporting him to Dachau when the engine was destroyed by an American bomber.
Many members of Lustig’s family died in the Holocaust; his mother and sister also survived. His experience of Jewish suffering was reflected in his short stories and novels where his characters fight to retain human dignity.
His works included “A Prayer for Katerina Horovitzova,” ’'Diamonds of the Night,” ’'The Unloved: From the Diary of Perla S.,” ’'Darkness Cast No Shadow,” ’'Lovely Green Eyes” and “Dita Saxova.”
Lustig, who was born in Prague on Dec. 21, 1926, studied journalism and covered the 1948 Arab-Israeli war for Czech radio.
He came to the United States in the 1970s and became a professor of literature at American University in Washington, D.C. He returned to Prague after retiring in 2003.
Lustig was twice awarded the National Jewish Book Award and was among the finalists for the Man Booker International Prize in 2009.
— Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports
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