May 16, 2019

I.M. Pei, the world-renowned architect who designed the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, has died, his family announced Thursday. He was 102.

Born in China, Pei came to the United States in 1935, and after graduating from Harvard, started designing high-rise buildings with William Zeckendorf's New York City firm, Webb & Knapp. He launched his own firm, I.M. Pei & Associates, in 1955, and went on to have a storied international career, designing the John F. Kennedy Library, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, the Miho Museum in Japan, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

Pei received the Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered by many to be the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for architecture, in 1983, in addition to several other awards and honors during his career. Catherine Garcia

May 15, 2019

Unita Blackwell, a civil rights activist and the first black female mayor in Mississippi, died Monday in Biloxi. She was 86.

Born in 1933 to sharecroppers, Blackwell had to leave Mississippi as a child for Arkansas, as black kids in the Mississippi Delta at the time were not always allowed to attend school, Mississippi Today reports. She married and moved to Florida, but returned to Mississippi in 1962 and became active in the civil rights movement and Democratic politics. Blackwell served as the project director and field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and said she was jailed at least 70 times for trying to get black people registered to vote in Mississippi.

During a 1977 oral history interview with the University of Southern Mississippi, she shared that "being black and in this country, you learn a great lesson, and this is how to overcome. ... It's that power to move in the midst of opposition." Upon her election as mayor of Mayersville in 1976, Blackwell became the first black woman to serve as mayor in Mississippi, and she remained in office until 2001. Blackwell was also an adviser to six U.S. presidents, including Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, and Gerald Ford, and in 1992, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant. Catherine Garcia

May 14, 2019

Tim Conway's deadpan comedy wasn't just an act.

Conway, a star on McHale's Navy and The Carol Burnett Show who reached a new generation as the voice of Barnacle Boy on Spongebob Squarepants, died Tuesday at 85. He earned six Emmys in his long comedic career, and received a wave of praise as news of his passing spread.

Burnett, the show's title star, declared she was "heartbroken" in a statement following Conway's death, going on to say "he was one in a million, not only as a brilliant comedian but as a loving human being." Plenty of other stars, including Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal and Al Roker, made sure to share their favorite Conway clips from The Carol Burnett Show.

Kathy Griffin echoed plenty of other actors' thoughts on Conway's kindness, calling him a "soft-spoken man" and a "comedy giant" in a tweet. Meanwhile, Conan sidekick Andy Richter and comedy filmmaker Judd Apatow had some longer memories to share. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 2, 2019

Actor Peter Mayhew, best known for playing Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, died Tuesday at his home in Texas, his family announced Thursday. He was 74.

"He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films," his family said in a statement. Mayhew enjoyed traveling around the world meeting Star Wars fans, they added, and developed lifelong bonds with his co-stars.

Before he was an actor, Mayhew worked as a hospital attendant in London. He was over seven feet tall, and wrote two books with titles based on his height: Growing up Giant and My Favorite Giant. A memorial service for family and friends will be held in June, and fans can celebrate his life during a public memorial scheduled for December in Los Angeles. He is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children. Catherine Garcia

April 28, 2019

Former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar (R) died Sunday morning in Virginia. He was 87.

The Lugar Center said he died of complications from chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, a neurological disorder. With six terms under his belt, Lugar was the longest-serving senator in Indiana history. He was known for his focus on agricultural issues, helping craft landmark farm bills in 1990 and 1996, and working alongside Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) to create the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program to prevent the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Born in Indianapolis on April 4, 1932, Lugar graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Denison College, was a Rhodes Scholar, and served in the Navy. Before joining the Senate, he was mayor of Indianapolis for eight years. Lugar received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 from former President Barack Obama, who said on Sunday that Lugar "proved that pragmatism and decency work — not only in Washington, but all over the world." Catherine Garcia

April 16, 2019

Actress Georgia Engel, best known for her portrayal of Georgette on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died Friday in Princeton, New Jersey. She was 70.

Engel's friend and executor, John Quilty, said she was a Christian Scientist, and because she did not see doctors, the cause of death is unknown.

Engel had recurring roles on Everybody Loves Raymond and Hot in Cleveland, and also appeared on Broadway, starring in The Drowsy Chaperone in 2006. She was nominated for five Emmy awards, and was last seen in 2018 on the Netflix revival of One Day at a Time. Engel is survived by her sisters Robin Engel and Penny Lusk. Catherine Garcia

March 25, 2019

Rafi Eitan, the Israeli spy who captured Nazi fugitive Adolf Eichmann in 1960, died Saturday at his home in Tel Aviv. He was 92.

Rafael Eitan was born on a kibbutz in Mandatory Palestine. After studying at the London School of Economics, he joined Shin Bet, the Israeli equivalent of the FBI, then made the move to Mossad, becoming the intelligence agency's chief of operations.

Eitan led the seven-person operation to capture Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust, near his home in Buenos Aires. Eichmann was tried in Jerusalem and found guilty of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was executed in 1962.

Mossad Director Yossi Cohen said Eitan's "work and his actions will be etched in gold letters in the annals of the state. The foundations that Rafi laid in the first years of the state are a significant layer in the activities of the Mossad even today." Cohen said much of what Eitan did isn't even known to the public. Later in life, Eitan became head of the Pensioners Party, and in 2006, he helped his party capture seven seats in parliament. Catherine Garcia

March 25, 2019

Beloved experimental singer-songwriter Scott Walker has died at the age of 76, his label, 4AD, announced Monday morning. Walker, who was born in Ohio as Noel Scott Engel, first came to fame in the 1960s with the Walker Brothers group, reaching number one on the U.K. charts with "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" and "Make It Easy on Yourself." Walker subsequently released 14 solo albums, including the self-titled and critically-acclaimed series Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3, and Scott 4.

"Walker’s career was a storied one," reflected Pitchfork. "He started as a session musician, made huge hits with the Walker Brothers, became the object of screaming teenage fans' adulation, and, later in life, became an enigmatic pioneer of dark and experimental avant-garde."

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke called Walker "a huge influence on Radiohead and myself, showing me how I could use my voice and words." Walker is also known for his film scores, including, most recently, the music he wrote for Vox Lux, starring Natalie Portman. Listen to his 2006 album The Drift, which AllMusic writes will "make your body temperature drop a few degrees," below. Jeva Lange

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