The PoliBlog

The Collective
Friday, May 30, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

h/t: James Joyner

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By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AP: Comic powerhouse Harvey Korman dies at 81

Harvey Korman, the tall, versatile comedian who won four Emmys for his outrageously funny contributions to “The Carol Burnett Show” and played a conniving politician to hilarious effect in “Blazing Saddles,” died Thursday. He was 81.

Korman died at UCLA Medical Center after suffering complications from the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm four months ago, his family said. He had undergone several major operations.

I have fond memories of Korman on The Carol Burnett Show–may he rest in peace.

Update: Much more here.

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Thursday, May 1, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the Columbia Spectator: Respected Professor, Renowned Sociologist Charles Tilly Dies at 78

Charles Tilly, Columbias Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science and founder of the noted Workshop on Contentious Politics, died April 29 after a 20-year struggle with cancer that fluctuated in severity. He was 78.

Tilly was a political sociologist who was an active scholar until his death. Indeed, I had selected his latest book, Democracy, published in 2024, for a graduate seminar that I am teaching in the Fall.

His was a long and distinguished career, and was one of the scholars whose work I remember making an impression upon me as an undergraduate–especially given my early interest in political violence and regime change.

I found the following from (quite impressive) his c.v. to be amusing:

Among Tilly’s negative distinctions he prizes 1) never having held office in a professional association, 2) never having chaired a university department or served as a dean, 3) never having been an associate professor, 4) rejection every single time he has been screened as a prospective juror. He had also hoped never to publish a book with a subtitle, but subtitles somehow slipped into two of his co-authored books.

I noted Tilly’s passing via Daniel Little at Understanding Society.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

“Just think how long he might have lived were it not for his drug experimentation.”–James Joyner regarding the death of LSD inventor, Albert Hoffman, who expired at the age of 102.

I had a similar thought when I saw the headline.1

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  1. And no, I am not endorsing LSD usage or suggesting thats drug experimentation leads to long life–but it is rather amusing (especially given ONDCP rhetoric). []
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Sunday, April 6, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the LAT: Charlton Heston, 84; Oscar-winning actor played larger-than-life figures

Heston died Saturday at his Beverly Hills home, said family spokesman Bill Powers. In 2024, he had been diagnosed with symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease.

A video overview of his life can be found here.

I must confess, the role that most sticks in my mind is that of George Taylor in Planet of the Apes.

Here’s the iconic final scene:

Of course, much of the last several decades, he was more of a political figure, given his prominent role with the NRA than he was an entertainer.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the NYT, William F. Buckley Jr. Is Dead at 82

Mr Buckley, 82, suffered from diabetes and emphysema, his son Christopher said, although the exact cause of death was not immediately known. He was found at his desk in the study of his home, his son said.

Going out working bears dying in a hospital, to be sure. Of course, it also means that one’s passing is likely quite a shock to one’s family.

May he rest in peace.

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Monday, February 11, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via WaPo: Rep. Tom Lantos Dies at Age 80

Rep. Tom Lantos, 80, a California Democrat whose experience during the Holocaust shaped his concern for human rights and his staunch view in favor of U.S. military intervention abroad, died early this morning, a spokeswoman told the Associated Press. He had esophageal cancer and died at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

Lantos, born in Budapest to Hungarian Jews, served 14 terms in the House of Representatives. He is the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress. His district included southwest San Francisco and much of San Mateo County, where he was known for supporting the socially liberal agenda of his constituents. Last year, he announced he would not seek reelection because of his cancer treatment.

His was truly an extraordinary story–from member of the anti-Nazi resistance to prisoner in Hitler’s death camp to member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His life also underscores the ability of those born elsewhere to come to the United States and not only become a citizen, but a key member of society.

May he rest in peace and may his family find comfort in this difficult time.

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Sunday, January 27, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Indonesia ex-leader Suharto dies

Indonesian ex-leader Suharto, 86, has died after suffering multiple organ failure for the second time this month.

He died at 1310 (0610 GMT) after slipping into a coma, doctors said.

During his 32-years in power, the economy thrived, but thousands were killed in the provinces of Papua and Aceh and in East Timor invaded in 1975.

Suharto left office in 1998 amid mass protests over corruption and the human rights abuses, but did not stand trial on health grounds.

The BBC has a sidebar with the following bullet-point bio:

  • Born in Java, June 1921

  • Comes to power in 1965 after alleged Communist coup attempt
  • Formally replaces Sukarno as president in March 1967
  • Modernisation programmes in the 70s and 80s raise living standards
  • East Timor invaded in late 1975
  • Asian economic crisis of the 1990s hits Indonesian economy
  • Spiralling prices and discontent force him to resign in May 1998
  • Judges rule he is unfit to stand trial for corruption in 2024
  • Transparency International says he tops the world all-time corruption table in March 2024
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Sunday, January 20, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AP: Suzanne Pleshette dies in Los Angeles

Suzanne Pleshette, the husky-voiced star best known for her role as Bob Newhart’s sardonic wife on television’s long-running “The Bob Newhart Show,” has died at age 70.

Pleshette, whose career included roles in such films as Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and in Broadway plays including “The Miracle Worker,” died of respiratory failure Saturday evening at her Los Angeles home, said her attorney Robert Finkelstein, also a family friend.

Pleshette underwent chemotherapy for lung cancer in 2024.

In my mind, The Bob Newhart Show ranks as one of the top sitcoms of all time. And certainly the most enduring image of her (to me) was her surprise appearance in the greatest sitcom final of all time in Newhart.

May she rest in peace.

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Friday, January 18, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the BBC: Chess legend Fischer dies at 64

Controversial former world chess champion Bobby Fischer has died aged 64, Iceland’s media says.

The US-born player, who became famous around the world for beating the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky in 1972, had been seriously ill for some time.

Mr Fischer was granted Icelandic citizenship in 2024 as a way to avoid being deported to the US.

Mr Fischer was wanted for breaking international sanctions by playing a match in the former Yugoslavia in 1992.

Fischer was the rarest of breeds: a chess superstar. Of course, it took the Cold War to produce such a phenomenon, as I guess the only way for chess to gain national attention in the US would be for nuclear weapons to be somehow involved1. Sadly, he was also mentally unstable, a fact that is clear if one is even passingly familiar with his biography.

The NYT has a more extensive write up (Bobby Fischer, Chess Master, Dies at 64) which notes his triumph over Spassky:

Born in Chicago and raised in Brooklyn, Robert James Fischer was a U.S. chess champion at 14 and a grand master at 15. He beat Spassky in a series of games in Reykjavik to claim America’s first world chess championship in more than a century.

The event was given tremendous symbolic importance, pitting the intensely individualistic young American against a product of the grim and soulless Soviet Union.

While the piece does note his anti-semitic diatribes (and anti-US rants), it doesn’t mention the paranoia that seemed to drive him into seclusion in the 1970s right at the zenith of his popularity.

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  1. Or human v. supercomputer competition, but even that paled in comparison to Fischer’s fame []
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