Sterling Lord, the uniquely enduring literary agent who worked for years to find a publisher for Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and arranged deals for everyone from true crime writer Joe McGinniss to the creators of the Berenstain Bears, has died. He had just turned 102.
Lord died Saturday in a nursing home in Ocala, Fla.,his daughter, Rebecca Lord, said.
“He had a good death and died peacefully of old age,” she told the Associated Press.
Sterling Lord, who started his own agency in 1952 and later merged with rival Literistic to form Sterling Lord Literistic Inc., was a failed magazine publisher who became, almost surely, the longest-serving agent in the book business. He stayed with the company he founded until he was nearly 100 — and then decided to launch a new one.
He was well-spoken and athletic, a most able negotiator who dressed in tweed and avoided most vices. But he was alert to new trends and an early ambassador for a revolutionary cultural movement: the Beats.
With rare persistence, he endured the initial unwillingness of publishers to take on Kerouac’s unorthodox narrative and was later the longtime agent for poet and playwright Amiri Baraka, novelist Ken Kesey and poet and City Lights bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
His full roster of clients produced works about sports, politics, murder and the travails of illustrated animals.
Thanks to his friendship with Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, Lord helped launch Stan and Jan Berenstain’s multimillion-selling books about an anthropomorphic bear family. He negotiated terms between McGinniss and accused killer Jeffrey MacDonald, later convicted, for the true crime classic “Fatal Vision.” He found a publisher for Nicholas Pileggi’s mob story “Wiseguy” and helped arrange the deal for its celebrated film adaptation, “Goodfellas.”
In the early 1960s, Viking had asked Lord to get a blurb from Kerouac for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Kesey’s first and most famous novel. Kerouac declined, but Lord was so impressed by the book that he ended up representing Kesey for his next work, “Sometimes a Great Notion.”
He represented former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and Judge John J. Sirica of Watergate fame and worked often with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis during her time as an editor with Doubleday and Viking. Some of the great sports books of the 20th century, including “North Dallas Forty” and “Secretariat,” were written by his clients.
“A number of things about this business have really caught me and made it a compelling interest,” Lord said in 2013. “First, I’m interested in good writing. Second, I am interested in new and good ideas. And third, I’ve been able to meet some extraordinarily interesting people.”
Lord would also speak proudly of a project he declined: Lyndon Johnson’s memoir. Representatives for the former president informed Lord in the late 1960s that Johnson wanted $1 million for the book and that Lord should accept less than his usual commission for the honor of working with him. Lord turned them down, much to their surprise and anger.
Johnson’s “The Vantage Point,” ultimately published in 1971, was dismissed by critics as bland and uninformative. Lord instead found a deal for “Quotations from Chairman LBJ,” a bestselling parody.
Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, Queen Elizabeth II, NBA great Bill Russell and country icon Loretta Lynn are among the notable deaths of 2022. (Los Angeles Times / Associated Press)
Pope Benedict XVI
, who spent years in the Vatican upholding conservative Catholic teaching but who upended centuries of tradition by resigning as pontiff, died at 95. Benedict withdrew to a life of study and prayer “hidden from the world” after announcing in February 2013 that he would step down from the throne of St. Peter. He spent his eight-year papacy trying to turn back the rising tide of secularism in Europe, defending the church’s response to widespread allegations of clerical sexual abuse. (Andrew Medichini / Associated Press)
, an anchor and program host who blazed the way as the first woman to become a TV news superstar, died at 93. Walters was an aggressive practitioner of “the get” who outmaneuvered competitors to land exclusives with figures as varied as Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Monica Lewinsky. Late in her career, Walters created “The View,” a daytime talk show that gave her another another prominent perch. But Walters was perhaps most familiar to viewers with her “Barbara Walters Specials.” (Evan Agostini / Associated Press)
, a Brazilian soccer icon who rose from an impoverished slum to become the most famous — and, for a time, the best-paid — athlete in the world died, died at 82. Pelé transformed soccer during a 21-year career in which he scored an unprecedented 1,281 goals. He was part of championship teams in 1958, 1962 and 1970, making him the only person in history to win three World Cups. (Jasper Juinen / Associated Press)
, the vocalist, songwriter and keyboard player whose tunes for Fleetwood Mac helped make the band one of the most successful acts in music history, died at 79. The England-born McVie joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970, not long after releasing a debut solo album titled “Christine Perfect” — her birth surname. In a famously fractious outfit filled with competing songwriters McVie was perhaps the most gifted hitmaker with such FM-radio staples as “Don’t Stop,” “Little Lies,” “Songbird” and “Everywhere.” Among the other well-known songs she wrote for the band were “Hold Me,” “Think About Me” and “Say You Love Me,” which typified her breezy yet sensual approach. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)
, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 movie “Fame” and belted out “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983′s “Flashdance,” died at 63. The New York-born Cara began her career on Broadway, with small parts in short-lived shows. During her signing career, Cara had Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including “Breakdance,” “Out Here on My Own” and “Flashdance ... What a Feeling,” which spent six weeks at No. 1 and won the Oscar for best original score. Cara, who was part of the songwriting team that accepted the Oscar in 1984, also won two Grammys and a Golden Globe. (Harry Langdon / Getty Images)
, a comedian who shattered watermelons and other assorted foodstuff over a decadeslong career, died at 76. The man born Leo Anthony Gallagher Jr. worked as the road manager for singer-songwriter Jim Stafford before turning to stand-up comedy in the late ‘70s. Showering audience members with food bits was a key part of his act, but he also would riff on cultural trends, politics, relationships and other topics. He built a nationwide following in the 1970s and ‘80s, starring in numerous Showtime specials. (Michael S. Schwartz/WireImage)
Jerry Lee Lewis
, the original wild man of rock ’n’ roll whose fiery records and scandals made him both fascinating and fearsome, died at 87. The Louisiana-born piano player who called himself “The Killer” is considered one of the key founders of rock. Lewis’ first two hits, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls of Fire,” were definitive incarnations of rock’s primal allure. Even after his career was derailed when he married his cousin in 1957, he rebranded himself as a country singer in 1968 and occupied the charts for 15 more years. (Lisa Poole / Associated Press)
, the author of many books that predicted the Los Angeles of today at its best and worst — including “City of Quartz,” “Ecology of Fear” and “Magical Urbanism” — died at 67. Raised in San Diego County, the self-defined “Marxist environmentalist” wrote more than a dozen notable books on politics, history and the environment
over his more than four-decade career. But it was the 1990 bestseller “City of Quartz” that turned Davis into a public intellectual. His visions of the city’s “spatial apartheid,” as described in the book, had initially been chided as apocalyptic by some critics, but the 1992 uprisings showed that his analysis had been prescient. (Adam Perez/For The Times)
, a comedy and drama standout known for his roles in “Will & Grace” and “American Horror Story,” died at 67. Jordan first arrived in Los Angeles in 1982 and got his big break in 1989 when he was cast in the first season of “Murphy Brown.” His fame grew while starring as the snide Beverley Leslie in NBC’s “Will & Grace,” as well as stints on Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story” franchise and “The Cool Kids.” In 2006, he won an Emmy for his performance in “Will & Grace.” Most recently, Jordan was known for his uplifting Instagram videos during the pandemic and for his role in the Fox sitcom “Call Me Kat.” (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)
, one of the first disc jockeys to play rock ’n’ roll on the West Coast and a pioneer in creating a compilation album (“Oldies but Goodies”), died at 97. Laboe started his own amateur radio station in 1938, landed his first radio job at 17, and went on to fill Southern California’s airwaves for more than 70 years. Laboe’s inviting, baritone voice became a beacon for generations of fans, particularly Latinos. Through the decades, his nighttime love song and dedication show — which was syndicated in more than a dozen cities and drew about a million listeners per week — endured unchanged in a sea of constant radio format shifts. (Russell Contreras / Associated Press)
, who stormed the New York stage in 1966 as the zestful, eccentric star of “Mame” and solved endless murders as crime novelist in the TV series “Murder, She Wrote,” died at 96. Lansbury won five Tony Awards for her Broadway performances and a lifetime achievement award during her 75-year career, which included 36 movies and nearly as many teleplays. She was nominated for Academy Awards for her first two films: She played a maid in “Gaslight” (1944) and a music hall singer in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1945). (Casey Curry / Invision/ Associated Press)
, a Kentucky coal miner’s daughter who quickly became a trailblazer and controversial figure in the country music scene when she emerged in the early 1960s, died at 90. The Country Music Hall of Famer wrote fearlessly about sex and love, cheating husbands, divorce and birth control and sometimes got in trouble with radio programmers. “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” was the title of her first No. 1 hit in 1966, and her defining 1970 hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter” lent its title to her bestselling 1976 autobiography and the subsequent feature film in 1980. Lynn was the first female country artist to achieve a gold album, and in 1973 she became the first country artist to appear on the cover of Newsweek magazine. (Mark Zaleski / Associated Press)
, who began building his network in Los Angeles’ rap scene in the early ‘90s and at one point was the biggest rap star on the planet, died at 59. In 1994, Coolio had his breakthrough hit, “Fantastic Voyage,” a track that crossed over to pop audiences while establishing him as someone with verifiable street cred. But the Compton-raised artist is perhaps best known for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” the title song from his sophomore album in 1995. The track, which was nominated for record of the year, transcended mediums, landing a spot in the 1995 film “Dangerous Minds.” Later in his career, Coolio was a lot of things, including reality TV star, cook, cookbook author, and the potential mayor of his hometown. (Rob Grabowski /invision / Associated Press)
, a base-stealing specialist who helped the Dodgers win three World Series titles in the 1960s, died at 89. Wills led the National League in steals six times, earned two Gold Gloves for his fielding and beat out Willie Mays for the league’s most-valuable-player award in 1962, when he stole 104 bases, eclipsing the 47-year-old mark of 96 by the immortal Ty Cobb. Wills became a valued instructor with the Dodgers in his later years and developed a strong relationship with Dave Roberts, now the manager of the Dodgers. (Richard Drew / Associated Press)
, a skilled and sensitive practitioner of the written language and former Times editor, died at 65. Born on a U.S. hospital ship in Japan, Fuhrmann grew up in Port Hueneme and attended Caltech with aspirations of becoming an engineer. But he found his calling while working at the student newspaper. He was hired in 1991 as a copy editor for The Times’ Calendar section, where he brought clarity to many ambiguously and erroneously written sentences. As an assistant managing editor, the self-described word nerd managed nearly 80 copy editors and was a tireless advocate for their work. He remained committed to the profession after his retirement in 2015. (Los Angeles Times)
Queen Elizabeth II
, whose 70-year reign as Britain’s monarch saw the country transform from an outsize, if insular, imperial power into a modest, multicultural European nation, died at 96. As the first child of Prince Albert, the Duke of York, and the first grandchild of the reigning King George V, she was born a princess but never intended to be queen. She married Prince Philip in 1947, and after a series of events and the death of her father, who had taken the name King George VI, she became queen in 1952. Britain’s longest-serving monarch endured through 15 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to Liz Truss, becoming an institution and an icon of stability and unity. (Jonathan Brady / Associated Press)
David A. Arnold
, an actor, writer and stand-up comedian who had huge presence in the L.A. comedy scene, died at 54. Arnold gained appeal through his perspective about fatherhood but his comic genius wasn’t limited to the stage. He was the creator and showrunner for “That Girl Lay Lay” on Nickelodeon; wrote episodes for “Meet the Browns,” “The Ricky Smiley Show” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne”; and headlined the Netflix comedy specials “Fat Ballerina” in 2019 and “It Ain’t for the Weak,” which debuted in July. (Courtesy of Rogers & Cowan)
, one of the most influential politicians of the 20th century and the last leader of the Soviet Union, died at 91. With a vision of remaking the Soviet Union into a more humane and flexible country, Gorbachev led a breathtaking series of reforms: he knocked down the walls between East and West, forged disarmament treaties with Cold War enemies, pulled troops from foreign conflicts, freed prisoners, and ushered in the unfamiliar notion of free elections. However, his reforms slowly superseded him at home, setting in motion a progressive weakening of the once-omnipotent Communist Party, which led to its downfall and the breakup of the Soviet Union in the early ‘90s. (David Longstreath / Associated Press)
, whose World War II submarine epic “Das Boot” propelled him into a blockbuster Hollywood career, died at 81. The German filmmaker’s first foray into American moviemaking was child fantasy (1984’s “The NeverEnding Story”), and one his finest Hollywood films was 1993’s “In the Line of Fire,” starring Clint Eastwood. Petersen would later become one of the top makers of cataclysmic action adventures in films spanning war (2004’s “Troy,” with Brad Pitt), pandemic (the 1995 Ebola virus-inspired “Outbreak”) and ocean-set disasters (2000’s “The Perfect Storm” and 2006’s “Poseidon,” a remake of “The Poseidon Adventure,” about the capsizing of an ocean liner). (Lisa Poole / Associated Press)
, an Emmy- and Tony-nominated actor who delivered nearly 100 performances on TV, stage and film, died at 53. After rising to prominence on the daytime TV circuit — she got her big break the long-running NBC soap opera “Another World” — Heche made the leap to the big screen, where she starred in high-profile films including “Donnie Brasco” (1997), “Volcano” (1997), “Six Days Seven Nights” (1998) and “John Q” (2002). In recent years Heche launched a podcast with co-host Heather Duffy and also landed a starring role in Lifetime’s upcoming film “Girl in Room 13.” (Chris Pizzello / invision / Associated Press)
, an actor and singer known for her role as Sandy in the film version of “Grease” and for such hits as “Physical” and “You’re the One That I Want,” died at 73. Newton-John broke onto the U.S. country music scene in the early 1970s — she won pop vocal performance and record of the year for “I Honestly Love You” in 1975 — but her image shifted with the 1978 movie musical “Grease,” which featured her on blockbuster hits “Summer Nights,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You” and “You’re the One That I Want.” Newton-John continued to release albums over the years. One recent album, the autobiographical “Gaia: One Woman’s Journey,” was inspired by her battle with cancer and by the loss of her father. (Richard Shotwell / Richard Shotwell / invision / Associated Press)
, the legendary sports broadcaster who was the beloved voice of the Dodgers from the moment they arrived in town in 1958 until his retirement in 2016, died at 94. Scully’s soothing, insightful style remained a constant for the fans as the team changed players, managers and owners. He provided a string of unforgettable moments, including Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, Kirk Gibson’s World Series heroics in 1988 and Hank Aaron’s eclipse of the all-time home run record in 1974. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year and had the stadium’s press box named for him in 2001. In 2016, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. (Paul Connors / Associated Press)
, professional basketball’s first Black superstar and a game-changing big man who reinvented the center position with the dynastic Boston Celtics of the late 1950s and ’60s, died at 88. A Hall of Famer, five-time Most Valuable Player and 12-time All-Star, Russell in 1980 was voted the greatest player in the NBA history by basketball writers. Russell also was that rare star athlete during his time who spoke publicly about various issues that centered on racism and the importance of fighting for equality. As early as 1958, he said the NBA had an unwritten quota system that effectively held back Black players, and in he mid-60s, he was an early participant in the civil rights movement. (Matt York / Associated Press)
, who gained fame and broke barriers as the immensely competent Lt. Uhura on ‘Star Trek,’ died at 89. Nichols first worked professionally as a singer and dancer in Chicago at age 14, moving on to New York nightclubs before coming to Hollywood for her film debut in 1959’s “Porgy and Bess,” the first of several small film and TV roles that led up to her “Star Trek” stardom in the late ‘60s. Her role in the ‘Star Trek’ series — which earned Nichols accolades for breaking stereotypes that had limited Black women to acting roles as servants — included an onscreen kiss with co-star William Shatner that was thought to be the first interracial kiss on television. (Barry Brecheisen / invision / Associated Press)
, who helped create the popular and lasting image of the American teenager of the 1950s and 60s with his role in “Leave It to Beaver,” died at 77. Dow possessed little acting experience when made his TV debut as the whip-smart Wally Cleaver in the TV sitcom. He took a break from acting in 1965 to join the California Guard, but he returned in the late 1960s and early ’70s, appearing in “Lassie,” “A Great American Tragedy” and “Death Scream.” He later reprised his role as Wally in the reunion movie “Still Beaver” and the sequel series “The New Leave It to Beaver.” (Reed Saxon / Associated Press)
, who specialized in playing crooks and cops during his 50-plus years in films and television, died at 83. Sorvino would often say that while he might be best known for playing gangsters — including the role of Paulie Cicero in “Goodfellas” — his real passions were poetry, painting and opera. Sorvino, who was musically inclined from a young age, made his Broadway debut in 1964 in “Bajour” and his film debut in Carl Reiner’s “Where’s Poppa?” in 1970. He was especially prolific in the 1990s with “Goodfellas,” “The Rocketeer,” “The Firm” and TV’s “Law & Order.” (Richard Shotwell / invision / Associated Press)
Bernard Benedict James
, a World War II veteran who spent two years in prison after hastily being convicted of mutiny and insubordination, died at 101. After leaving the Army — which eventually provided James a partial correction to his military record — James
returned to college, including Harvard, and was in demand as a mathematician in the aerospace industry.
He would go on to an illustrious career in the aerospace industry — including designing the capsules that carried astronauts on the Apollo and Mercury space missions. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)
, the first wife of former President Trump and mother of his oldest children, died at 72. In the 1980s, the Trumps were the ultimate power couple in New York before their divorce. Ivana Trump, a businesswoman who became an icon in her own right, influenced the look of the over-the-top Patsy Stone in the classic British sitcom “Absolutely Fabulous” and also had a long list of cameos on TV and in movies. She had continued her business ventures in recent years, promoting an Italian weight-loss diet in 2018. (Evan Agostini / Invision via Associated Press)
, who re-asserted Japan’s influence in global politics and helped usher in modest economic gains during his tenure as the country’s longest-serving prime minister, died at 67. Abe sought to reassert Japan’s influence on the international stage by bringing the Summer Olympics to Tokyo in 2021, and by building up Japan’s military, despite its pacifist constitution. And he drew controversy by leading efforts in Japan to gloss over wartime atrocities committed by Japan. Abe, who left office in 2020, was assassinated during a campaign speech in Nara. (Associated Press)
, an actor known to movie fans as the hotheaded Sonny Corleone of “The Godfather” and to TV audiences as both the dying football player in “Brian’s Song” and the casino boss in “Las Vegas,” died at 82. Caan’s first credited movie role was co-starring with Olivia de Havilland in 1964’s “Lady in a Cage,” and by 1971 he would establish himself as a top acting talent. For much of the 1980s he made no films, but in 1987 he landed the leading role in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Gardens of Stone.” Recent films included 2017’s “Undercover Grandpa” and “Queen Bees” in 2021. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
, who discovered such talents as Fernando Valenzuela, Julio Urías and Yasiel Puig during his nearly 45 years as a Dodgers scout, died at 87. A native of Cuba who played professionally in the minor leagues and Mexico during the 1950s and 1960s, Brito was hired by the Dodgers in 1978 after working as a Mexican League scout. During his time with the team, Brito helped sign more than 30 players who appeared in the majors, including Ismael Valdez and Juan Castro. Last year, he was awarded Baseball America’s Tony Gwynn Award for lifetime contributions to the game. (Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)
Philip Baker Hall
, whose prolific career ranged from collaborations with director Paul Thomas Anderson to a scene-stealing turn as hard-bitten library cop Lt. Bookman on “Seinfeld,” died at 90. Hall proved equally adept at drama and comedy, appearing in nearly 200 film and television projects — including the films “Magnolia,” “Boogie Nights” and “Argo” — as well as more than 100 roles in the theater throughout his six-decade career. (Toby Canham / Getty Images)
, an actor best known for playing mobster Henry Hill in “Goodfellas” and baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams,” died at 67. The soft-spoken New Jersey native got his first break in 1978 on the soap opera “Another World,” but it was his role of Ray Sinclair in the 1986 film “Something Wild” that made him a star. His only regret, he once told the Los Angeles Times, was turning down a meeting to talk to Tim Burton about starring in “Batman.” (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
, the unassuming keyboardist who for more than 40 years added his synth sounds to Depeche Mode hits, died at 60. Fletcher helped define the sound of 1980s and ’90s alternative music and beyond through hits including “Just Can’t Get Enough,” “Personal Jesus,” “Enjoy the Silence” and “People Are People.” (Owen Sweeney / Invision, via Associated Press)
, a musician whose namesake Texas honky-tonk inspired the 1980 film “Urban Cowboy” and a nationwide wave of Western-themed nightspots, died at 86. Gilley’s first national hit came in 1968 with “Now I Can Live Again” and he reached No. 1 on the Billboard country chart with his version of “Stand By Me” from the film’s soundtrack. Overall, he had 39 Top 10 country hits and 17 No. 1 songs. (Pat Sullivan / Associated Press)
, a longtime California congressman who broke racial barriers for Asian Americans in becoming mayor of San Jose and also was the first Asian American Cabinet secretary, died at 90. Mineta was a driving force behind the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which required the U.S. government to apologize to the 120,000 people of Japanese descent forced to live in wartime incarceration camps. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. (Nam Y Huh / Associated Press)
, whose harmonies with daughter Wynonna turned them into the Grammy-winning country stars The Judds, died at 76. Naomi was working as a single mother and nurse in Nashville when she and Wynonna started singing together professionally. Combining the traditional Appalachian sounds of bluegrass with polished pop stylings, The Judds scored 14 No. 1 songs in a career that spanned nearly three decades. (Josh Anderson / Associated Press)
, who became a U.S. senator in 1976 and went on to become the the longest-serving Republican senator in history, died at 88. A staunch conservative on most economic and social issues, he also teamed with Democrats several times during his long career on issues ranging from stem cell research to expanding children’s health insurance. He retired in 2018. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
, a Dodgers standout who played the first eight seasons of his 18-year career in Los Angeles, died at 83. The outfielder and third baseman led the National League in batting with a .346 average in 1962 and a .326 mark in 1963, becoming the first batting champion in Los Angeles Dodgers history. His 230 hits and 153 RBIs in 1962 are Los Angeles franchise records. (Robert H. Houston /Associated Press)
, who was revered for his brash, irreverent style of stand-up comedy, died at 67. Gottfried broke into TV via “Saturday Night Live” and later appeared in films including “Beverly Hills Cop II” and the “Problem Child” franchise. The renowned voice actor was also known for lending his piercing, squawky vocals to Jafar’s avian minion in the Disney animated classic “Aladdin,” as well as the instantly recognizable Aflac duck. (Getty / WIBBITZ)
, an East L.A. native who helped found the famed Chicano band Los Lobos in 1973, died at 68. After leaving the group, González released solo albums and became a musical icon of his own. His handmade strings for Mexico’s family of guitars, including the sonorous requinto and the high-toned jarana, were lifelines for musicians with no other options in the United States for their instruments. (Scott MacDonald )
, a longtime drummer of the Foo Fighters who played on eight of the band’s studio albums, died at 50. Hawkins worked as a professional session musician before getting his first big break supporting Canadian blues-rocker Sass Jordan in the early 1990s. He worked on Alanis Morissette’s touring band before joining the Foo Fighters in 1997. (Arturo Holmes / Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)
, a child of Czechoslovakian refugees who became the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state, died at 84. Albright had aspirations of becoming a journalist before climbing the ranks in the Democratic Party. She was a foreign policy advisor to presidential hopefuls, a counselor to President Carter and then secretary of state in the Clinton administration — at the time, the highest-ranking woman in the history of U.S. government. (Zach Gibson / Associated Press)
, an Oscar-winning actor who was one of the 1980s foremost leading men in movies such as “Broadcast News,” “Body Heat” and “The Big Chill,” died at 71. In a long-running career, Hurt was four times nominated for an Academy Award, winning for his performance as a gay prisoner in a repressive South American dictatorship in 1985’s “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Though his film career waned somewhat in the later years of his life, Hurt had a recurring role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in five films. (Rich Fury / Rich Fury/ invision/Associated Press)
, an actor and singer who for 45 years was a warm and familiar presence in children’s lives as fix-it shop owner Luis on “Sesame Street,” died at 81. Delgado joined “Sesame Street’s” third season in 1971, when he was 30, and for more than four decades he influenced how Latino men were portrayed in the media. (Zach Hyman / Associated Press)
, a businessman and investor who married Dianne Feinstein, now a U.S. senator, in 1980, died at 86. A longtime friend of the Dalai Lama, Blum’s storied career took many forms. He was chairman of equity investment management firm Blum Capital Partners and also dedicated much of his life to the people of the Himalayas, founding the American Himalayan Foundation in 1981. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)
, a journalist and political satirist with a distinctive brand of conservative and libertarian commentary, died at 74. O’Rourke wrote best-sellers such as “Parliament of Whores” and his work appeared in Esquire, the Atlantic and the Weekly Standard, among others. He also was a regular on NPR’s quiz show “Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me.” (David Howells/Corbis via Getty Images)
, who guided the Boston Celtics to a championship in 1981 and coached the Clippers during a 25-year career in the NBA, died at 89. Fitch coached college teams before breaking into the NBA with Cleveland in 1970. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019. (Uncredited / Associated Press)
Thich Nhat Hanh
, who was among the most influential Buddhist teachers of his time, helping to spread the practice of mindfulness across the globe, died at 95. Nhat Hanh distilled Buddhist teachings on compassion and suffering into easily grasped guidance over a lifetime dedicated to working for peace. (Roni Galgano / San Diego Union-Tribune)
Alan Ladd Jr.
, an Oscar-winning producer and former studio boss who was best known for greenlighting George Lucas’ landmark blockbuster “Star Wars” in the 1970s, died at 84. Ladd was appointed president of Fox’s feature film division in 1976 and leaped at Fox’s opportunity to do “Star Wars,” which became an overnight cultural phenomenon and one of the highest-grossing pictures in history. In 1979, he left Fox and formed the Ladd Co., an independent production company. (David F. Smith / Associated Press)
, a veteran comedian who won a supporting actor Emmy for playing a version of his own mother in the TV series “Baskets,” died at 68. Anderson got his start as a stand-up comedian and made his national television debut on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show” in 1984 — which led to scores of late-night appearances throughout his career. He was a familiar face elsewhere on TV, including as host of a revival of the game show “Family Feud.” (Danny Moloshok/ invision / Associated Press)
, a rock superstar who shot to stardom with the 1977 album “Bat Out of Hell”
— which featured such theatrical anthems as “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” — died at 74. Meat Loaf channeled his love of musical theater into rock ‘n’ roll and maintained a parallel career as an actor. (Andy Kropa /Associated Press)
, a wealthy New York real estate heir who was convicted in September 2021 of killing his close friend Susan Berman and was sentenced to life in prison, died at 78. Durst also had been charged in the death of his first wife, Kathleen McCormack. (Associated Press)
, an actor-comedian known for his role as the squeaky clean widower and father in the sitcom “Full House” and as the wisecracking host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” died at 65. Saget focused occasionally on directing over the years and most recently was on a stand-up comedy tour. (Jordan Strauss /invision / Associated Press)
, who broke through color barriers during a time when Black people on the Hollywood studio lots were generally given stereotypical roles, died at 94. Poitier arose as one of the top box-office draws of the 1960s in films such as “In the Heat of the Night” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and became a towering role model for succeeding generations of Black actors. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
, a filmmaker and producer known for big, bawdy comedies that caught the spirit of their time, died at 76. Reitman’s big break came with “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” which he produced, but his most significant success came with 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” which earned two Oscar nominations. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)
, who in 1957 teamed with her older sister and cousin to form the Ronettes, one of the most enduring trios of the so-called girl-group era, died at 83. Her towering voice propelled early 1960s hit records including “Be My Baby,” “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain,” and long after the group, she was hailed as a symbol of artistic and personal resiliency. (Michael Ochs Archives)
, who rocketed to fame as director of touchstone 1970s movies such as “The Last Picture Show,” “What’s Up, Doc?” and “Paper Moon,” died at 82. The two-time Oscar nominee saw his career plummet after a string of bruising flops, but he shined later in life with a run of well-received films, a pair of acclaimed books and a reoccurring role on ”The Sopranos” as Elliot Kupferberg, the therapist for Tony Soprano’s overworked psychiatrist. (Los Angeles Times)
Lord was married four times, and had one child, Rebecca.
Books and tennis were lifelong passions for Lord, born in Burlington, Iowa, in 1920. It began when his mother would read to him after dinner; he went on to edit his high school newspaper and work as a sports stringer around the same time for the Des Moines Register. He also became a tennis star at Grinnell College, and later a good enough player to compete against Don Budge, among others.
His upbringing, he would later write, was the kind of “pleasant, orderly” world “the Beats were trampling on in the fifties and sixties.”
After serving in the Army Air Force during World War II, Lord co-owned the Germany-based magazine Weekend, which soon folded. Back in the U.S., he served as an editor at True and Cosmopolitan, from which he was fired, before founding the Sterling Lord Literary Agency.
Lord had met many agents during his magazine years and believed they failed to understand that the American public was becoming more urban and sophisticated. He also prided himself on his sympathy for writers who lived far more wildly than he did.
His first marriage, he would acknowledge, helped inspire him to go into business for himself.
“Frankly, I didn’t want to deal with the situation at home,” he told the Des Moines Register in 2015.
Lord had quick success by selling film rights to two popular sports books, Rocky Graziano’s “Somebody Up There Likes Me” and Jimmy Piersall’s “Fear Strikes Out.” But Lord’s “On the Road” quest would prove bumpier.
In his 2013 memoir “Lord of Publishing,” Lord remembered first meeting Kerouac in 1952. Kerouac already had completed a conventional novel, “The Town and the City,” but had no agent and needed one for his next book: “On the Road” was typed, as Lord was among the first to know, “on a 120-foot scroll of architectural tracing paper.”
Lord believed that Kerouac had “a fresh, distinctive voice that should be heard.” But the industry was not in the mood. Even younger editors who may have related to Kerouac’s jazzy celebration of youth and personal freedom turned him down. One editor wrote to Lord that “Kerouac does have enormous talent of a very special kind. But this is not a well-made novel, nor a saleable one nor even, I think, a good one.”
By 1955, Kerouac was ready to give up — but Lord was not. The agent sold excerpts to The Paris Review and the periodical New World Writing. An editor from Viking Press contacted Lord, offering an advance of $900. Lord held out for $1,000. In 1957, the book was released, The New York Times raved, and “On the Road” soon entered the American canon.
But Kerouac was a shy and fragile man, Lord wrote. Fame magnified a drinking problem that killed him by 1969. Lord even recruited a doctor who attempted to get Kerouac to clean up, but the businessman eventually backed away because he was his “literary agent, not his life agent.”
Lord attended Kerouac’s funeral, sharing a limousine ride with his client Jimmy Breslin and standing by the grave alongside Allen Ginsberg, “the sunlight filtering through the trees, the leaves brown after losing their fall colors.”
Lord oversaw Kerouac’s numerous posthumous releases even as he battled the author’s family for control of the estate. After years of failed attempts, a filmed version of “On the Road” was released in 2012. But Lord had little involvement in the project, directed by Walter Salles and starring Sam Riley and Kristen Stewart. He didn’t bother to attend a special screening, citing mixed early reviews, and didn’t show up for a private party for the film.
“I decided to go home,” he said in 2013.