Compiled from The Star’s wire services:
Philip Roth, the prize-winning novelist and fearless narrator of sex, death, assimilation and fate, from the comic madness of “Portnoy’s Complaint” to the elegiac lyricism of “American Pastoral,” died May 22 at age 85. Roth’s literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said the author died in a New York City hospital of congestive heart failure. The author of more than 25 books, Roth was a fierce satirist and uncompromising realist, confronting readers in a bold, direct style that scorned false sentiment or hopes for heavenly reward. He was an atheist who swore allegiance to earthly imagination, whether devising pornographic functions for raw liver or indulging romantic fantasies about Anne Frank. In “The Plot Against America,” published in 2004, he placed his own family under the anti-Semitic reign of President Charles Lindbergh. In 2010, in “Nemesis,” he subjected his native New Jersey to a polio epidemic. He was among the greatest writers never to win the Nobel Prize. But he received virtually every other literary honor, including two National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle prizes and, in 1998, the Pulitzer for “American Pastoral.”
Richard N. Goodwin, an aide, speechwriter and liberal force for the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson who helped craft such historic addresses as Robert Kennedy’s “ripples of hope” and LBJ’s speeches on civil rights and “The Great Society,” died May 20 at age 86. Goodwin, the husband of Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, died at his home in Concord, Mass., after a brief bout with cancer. Goodwin was among the youngest members of President John F. Kennedy’s inner circle and among the last survivors. Brilliant and contentious, with thick eyebrows and a mess of wavy-curly hair, the cigar-smoking Goodwin rose from a working class background to the Kennedy White House before he had turned 30. He was a Boston native and Harvard Law graduate. Goodwin worked on some of Lyndon Johnson’s most memorable domestic policy initiatives, including his “We Shall Overcome” speech.
Joan Wile, a former songwriter and actress who in her 70s organized Grandmothers Against the War, a nine-year vigil against the war in Iraq, died on May 4 in Nanuet, New York She was 86. The cause was complications of diabetes. A photograph of a 12-year-old Iraqi boy who had been burned and lost both arms and whose family had been killed by American bombs spurred her to action. Wile and fellow seniors protested every Wednesday afternoon in front of Rockefeller Center from 2004 to 2012. Twice they were arrested for staging sit-ins. Wile decided to call it quits in her 80s. “It’s a relief not to have to stand there for an hour any longer,” she told The New York Times. “Old bones do not take too well to such activity.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Luis Posada Carriles, a 90-year-old Cuban exile among those trained by the CIA in the early 1960s in a failed effort to overthrow Fidel Castro’s fledgling communist government, died May 23 at a South Florida care home for elderly veterans, according to his attorney. Carriles was later suspected of organizing the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner that killed 73, as well as a string of Havana hotel bombings in 1997. He was acquitted in 2011 by a federal jury in El Paso, Texas, of lying to U.S. officials about his role in the Havana bombings to win political asylum. The lawyer said Carriles was diagnosed with throat cancer about five years ago.
Robert Indiana, a pop artist best known for his 1960s “LOVE” series, died May 19 from respiratory failure at his island home off Maine. He was 89. The artist’s endearing image of LOVE is instantly recognizable around the world. Couples have their photo taken at the LOVE sculpture in Philadelphia, and the iconic image was used on postage stamps. But the man behind the art grew up in a household where the word “love” was never spoken, and he never found a lasting relationship, said Barbara Haskell, curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Friends had expressed concern for his well-being because the reclusive artist had not been heard from for some time. Indiana created a lifetime of art but he’s best known for LOVE, spelled with two letters to a line and with a tilted “O.” It’s been transformed into sculptures around the world, sometimes in different languages, from Spain to Israel to Japan.
Bill Gold, a graphic artist who created memorable posters for decades for films including “Casablanca,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Alien” and “Mystic River” died May 20 in Greenwich, Conn. He was 97. Mr. Gold’s wife, Susan, said he died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Gold worked mostly for Warner Bros. and Clint Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions. His art was displayed, largely uncredited, at theaters and in promotional campaigns across America from 1942 to 2011. Gold’s last design, in 2011, was for “J. Edgar,” the biopic of the longtime F.B.I. director, using Leonardo DiCaprio’s angry face for a likeness.
Clint Walker, the strapping actor who handed down justice as the title character in the early TV western “Cheyenne,” died May 22. He was 90. Walker died May 21 of congestive heart failure at a hospital in his longtime home of Grass Valley, California, his daughter, Valerie Walker, told The Associated Press. Walker’s film credits included “The Ten Commandments” and “The Dirty Dozen.” He played the solitary adventurer Cheyenne Bodie in “Cheyenne,” which ran for seven seasons on ABC starting in 1955.
Billy Cannon, one of college football's most versatile and dynamic players who led Louisiana State University to an undefeated season in 1958 and won the Heisman Trophy a year later but who fell from grace in the 1980s when he went to prison as part of a counterfeiting ring, died May 20 at his home in St. Francisville, La. He was 80. The cause was not disclosed. Cannon, who also had an 11-year career in professional football and later became an orthodontist, was a two-time all-American and won the Heisman in large part because of a game-winning 89-yard punt return against archrival Mississippi, which remains one of the most electrifying moments in college football history. In 1983, he was arrested for involvement in a counterfeiting operation. Secret Service agents dug up $5 million in phony $100 bills on Cannon's property, and he was charged with possession of counterfeit money and conspiracy.