This week’s passages | The Seattle Times

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Roger Michel, 65, the British theater and film director best known for “Notting Hill,” the hugely popular 1999 romantic comedy that somewhat overshadows the rest of his extensive and varied work, died Wednesday. Further details were not known. Although his success with Notting Hill catapulted him into the top tier of English-speaking directors, Michell held back and preferred to let his actors and screenwriters shine – a quality that could explain why so many actors enjoyed working with him.

Melvin Van Peebles, 89, the filmmaker hailed as the godfather of modern black cinema and the pioneer of American independent film, died Tuesday at his New York home. His death was announced by his son, Mario Van Peebles, the actor and director.

Melvin Van Peebles, a Renaissance man whose work included books, theater and music, is best known for his third feature film, “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song”. The film was bursting with explosive violence, explicit sex, and sincere antagonism to the white power structure. It was dedicated to “all the black brothers and sisters who have had enough of The Man”.

Van Peebles not only made films, but also published novels, in both French and English; wrote and produced two Broadway musicals simultaneously; and wrote and played spoken word albums that many have identified as the ancestors of rap.

Willie Garson, 57, a versatile character actor best known for his work on “Sex and the City” and its spin-off films as one of the best friends of Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and later in “White Collar” and appeared in many other TV shows and films, died Tuesday of an unspecified disease, People magazine reported.

Sarah Dash, 76, the co-founder of the Labelle vocal group – best known for the rough 1974 hit “Lady Marmalade” – died on Monday. Patti LaBelle and Nona Hendryx completed the trio. They announced Dash’s death on social media on Monday. No cause of death has been disclosed.

Dash brought her church-rooted soprano and high harmonies to Labelle, which began as a girl group in the 1960s before reinventing itself as a socially conscious, afro-futuristic rock and funk powerhouse, dressed up in glittering science fiction outfits and singing about revolution as well as earthy romance. In 1974, Labelle had a No. 1 hit, “Lady Marmalade,” and gave the first concert by a pop group – and a black group – at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

George Holliday, 61, a plumber whose video of the beatings of black motorist Rodney King by police officers in Los Angeles in 1991 tore open a city of racist tension, died in a Los Angeles hospital on September 19 as a result of COVID-19.

After hearing sirens, Holliday used a Sony Super8 Handycam video from his balcony to record the beats. After Holliday had unsuccessfully made the footage available to the police, the videotape was sent to KTLA-TV. The footage was widely viewed and used to prosecute the officers who were found not guilty by a mostly white jury in sparking violent protests. In a way unrecognizable at the time, Holliday’s simple act of lifting a video camera to his shoulder was probably one of the first flickers of the citizen journalist movement.

Ruben Klamer, 99, an inventor who came up with the game of life and many other toys and games that kept young baby boomers entertaining the internet in the 1950s and 60s and their children in the 80s and 90s, died on September 14th to be At home in La Jolla, California. The game of life has sold over 70 million times in 59 countries. It became such a part of the culture that it was added to the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent archive of family life in 1981.

Irma Kalisch, 96, a television writer who featured abortion, rape, and other provocative subjects in many of the greatest comedy hits of the 1960s and beyond when she helped lead women into the writer’s room, died on September 3 in Woodland Hills, California.

Yolanda Lopez, 78, an artist and activist who created one of the most famous works of art in Chicano history by boldly reshaping the Virgin of Guadalupe in her own image – a young, strong, brown woman with running shoes and a big grin – on September 3rd to their home in San Francisco. The cause were complications in liver cancer.


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