Photo by Flickr user Dawn Humphrey
We’re moments away from 2014. Our resolutions are set and the champagne glasses are out, but before we move on to the new year, we have a bit more reflecting to do.
As we say goodbye to 2013, we remember the artists we lost throughout the year, many of whom we’ve had the chance to talk to during their lives. We know there are others who made a mark on the world but didn’t make it on to this list — we would love to hear from you about the artist, musician, actor, writer, filmmaker who died this year that you will miss most. Leave your thoughts in the comments section under this article.
Remembering Van Cliburn, 78, Classical Pianist
Van Cliburn first gained worldwide attention when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow at 23. He went on to rock the classical and Cold War worlds in the late 1950s and beyond. In February, Cliburn died at home at the age of 78 after a battle with bone cancer. Back in 2008, Jeffrey Brown spent time with Van Cliburn, reflecting on Cliburn’s momentous competition and later life. You can watch the full conversation from five years ago, “Van Cliburn Reflects on 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition.”
Remembering Nigerian Novelist Chinua Achebe
Nigerian novelist, poet, essayist, statesman and dissident Chinua Achebe emerged in the literary world in 1958 with the publication of his influential novel, “Things Fall Apart,” which has sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into more than 50 languages. Achebe died on March 21 in Boston after a brief illness. He was 82.
For Influential Critic Roger Ebert, Life Spent ‘At the Movies’ Ends at Age 70
Prolific film critic Roget Ebert famously decided a movie’s fate with the turn of his thumb. After a long and physically debilitating battle with cancer, Ebert died at age 70 in April. NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan spoke to David Edelstein, film critic for New York Magazine and NPR’s Fresh Air about Ebert and his impact on the film industry.
Remembering Jonathan Winters, 1925-2013
Jonathan Winters rose to fame in the late 1950s as one of the great stand-up comedians. He is best known for his frequent appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and movies such as “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” Winters served as inspiration to many comics, including Robin Williams. In April, Winters died at his home in Montecito, Calif., at age 87. He sat down with former NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer in 1999 to discussed his career, how he first started loving comedy as a child, his time in the Marines and why he loved improvising.
Remembering George Jones, 81, Country Music Giant
Country music legend George Jones had a distinctive voice and the ability to convey heartbreak and sorrow in song. He is best known for chart-topper “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Jones died at age 81 in Nashville, Tenn., in April. Chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown talks with Larry Gatlin, a fellow singer-songwriter who knew Jones.
Poet Seamus Heaney, 74, Explored the ‘Wideness of Language’
In August, world-renowned poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney died at age 74 in his native Ireland after a brief illness. Jeffrey Brown looks back on an interview he did with the poet two years ago, when Heaney reflected on his life and work and read a section from his poem, “Album.”
Death of Kofi Awoonor in Nairobi Attack Is ‘Great Loss’ for Ghana and Poetry
Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet, diplomat and academic, was among the victims murdered in the September terrorist attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi. Awoonor’s nephew Kwame Dawes, another renowned poet, was traveling with his uncle to attend a literary festival in Kenya when he was killed. Dawes spoke to NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown to honor his uncle’s legacy.
Remembering Tom Clancy, 66, Blockbuster Novelist of High-Tech Spy Thrillers
Best-selling author Tom Clancy wrote espionage novels that ushered in a new genre of military thrillers and spawned many successful films. He died in Baltimore at the age of 66 in October. Gwen Ifill spoke to NPR book commentator Alan Cheuse about the late author’s characters, strong imagination, and what made Clancy’s books so popular.
Remembering Oscar Hijuelos, 62, Cuban-American ‘King’ of Fiction
Novelist Oscar Hijuelos was the first Latino American author to win a Pulitzer Prize for his 1989 book “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love.” In 2011, former NewsHour correspondent Ray Suarez interviewed Hijuelos about his memoir, “Thoughts Without Cigarettes.” When he died in October of a heart attack at the age of 62, we re-aired an excerpt of that interview.
How ‘Underground’ Artist Lou Reed Inspired All Tomorrow’s Rockers
As founder of The Velvet Underground, musician and songwriter Lou Reed launched a new genre of rock ‘n’ roll. His music explored dark, often unsettling themes, including social alienation, addiction, and sexuality and influenced generations of other musicians, including David Bowie, Patti Smith, and Nirvana. Reed died in October of liver disease. Chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown spoke to Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone magazine about Reed’s legacy and literary influences.
From the Archives: Doris Lessing’s Unfinished Business With ‘Ben, in the World’
Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007. She is perhaps most well-known for her 1962 novel, “The Golden Notebook.” She died in November at the age of 94. In 2000, former NewsHour correspondent Ray Suarez interviewed Lessing about “Ben, in the World,” a science fiction novel about a young man whose story she started in her 1998 novel “The Fifth Child.” Lessing told Suarez what made her take up Ben’s story again, more than a decade after the first book.
We would also like to remember several more artists, who we didn’t to cover on Art Beat.
Richie Havens circa 1970. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Folk singer and guitarist Richie Havens came from the New York folk scene in 1960s. In 1969, he welcomed thousands of people to the original Woodstock festival in the event’s very first performance, marking a turning point in his career. Havens died from a heart attack at 72 years old in April. WNET hosted the performer for “Great Performances” on three separate occasions. During one of those concerts, Havens played his famous version of “Motherless Child”.
Elmore Leonard in 1991. Photo by Frank O’Brien/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
In August, the bestselling crime novelist Elmore Leonard died at his home in Michigan from complications of a stroke. Leonard published more than 40 novels during his career, many featuring con men and gangsters. A number of Leonard’s books made it to the big and small screens, among them “Get Shorty” and the FX show “Justified.” The writer was 87 years old. NPR’s “Fresh Air” commemorated Elmore Leonard.
Peter O’Toole on the set of “Lawrence Of Arabia.” Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
British-Irish actor Peter O’Toole is best known for his role in the 1962 film “Lawrence of Arabia.” That role earned the actor his first Oscar nomination, only to be nominated for seven more. However, the actor never won an Academy Award until he was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2003. He died in December after a long illness. He was 81. NPR commemorated the O’Toole on Morning Edition.
Gandolfini, as Tony Soprano in HBO’s “The Sopranos” 1999. By Anthony Neste/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
James Gandolfini worked his way into the hearts of Americans as complicated mob boss Tony Soprano in HBO’s “The Sopranos.” That role won him three Emmy awards and helped fuel big changes in the contemporary approach to TV dramas. While he played a share of gangsters, he also acted on stage and in a number of films, including as a whistleblower in the legal drama “A Civil Action,” as a general in the political saltire “In the Loop” and recently as the CIA director in “Zero Dark Thirty.” He died suddenly in June. NPR remembered Gandolfini on “Morning Edition.”.
Ray Manzarek in 1960. From the estate of Edmund Teske/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Ray Manzarek is best known as the keyboardist for the rock band The Doors. Musically speaking, Manzarek’s riffs, made famous in songs like “Riders on the Storm,” “Break on Through” and “People are Strange,” gave the band it’s distinctive sound. He died at 74 in May after a battle with cancer. PBS’s American Masters, who made the “When You’re Strange” documentary about The Doors, remembered the rock keyboardist.
Joan Fontaine circa 1940. Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images
Joan Fontaine became a major film star in the 1940s, appearing in more than 30 movies over her career. The Academy Award winning actress starred in two Alfred Hitchock films, “Suspicious” and “Rebecca,” the film that launched Fontaine into stardom. She died at 96 years old in her home in California. NPR commemorated Fontaine’s life.