Horton Foote, 92, whose bittersweet stories of heartbreak and regret set in small Southern towns earned him wide popular acclaim as well as two Academy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize, died Wednesday (March 4, 2009) in Hartford, Conn. Mr. Foote's writing career spanned seven decades and encompassed film, theater and television. He emerged on the national scene in 1962 when he won an Academy Award for his screen adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, based on Harper Lee's novel. He won a second Oscar for his original screenplay Tender Mercies in 1983, a low-budget film that starred Robert Duvall, who won a best actor Oscar. Mr. Foote was a contender for a third Oscar in 1986 with The Trip to Bountiful. The screenplay did not win but Geraldine Page won a best actress award. After 50 years as a successful playwright, Mr. Foote received the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1995 with The Young Man From Atlanta. He wrote at least 60 plays, 14 movie scripts and 14 teleplays. Last fall, his play Dividing the Estate opened to rave reviews on Broadway. He based many of his plays on stories his parents told him when he was growing up in Wharton, Texas.
Mystery writer Barbara Parker, 62, died Saturday (March 7, 2009) at Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton. Her first novel, Suspicion of Innocence, was a finalist for the Edgar Allen Poe Award for the best first mystery novel by an American author. It was later made into a TV movie. Many of her 12 novels were set in Miami and illustrated the changing demographics of South Florida.
Leon Salzman, 93, a psychoanalyst who wrote the first comprehensive work on the causes and treatment of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, died Feb. 28 at his home in Bethesda, Md., of complications from a stroke. He had a long-running private practice in psychiatry and psychoanalysis in Washington and was on the faculty of Georgetown University for more than 30 years. Two of his books, The Obsessive Personality (1968) and Treatment of the Obsessive Personality (1980), became standard texts. He was a member of federal appeals Judge David Bazelon's project on law and psychiatry, which developed the standard legal definition of insanity.
Sydney Chaplin, 82, an actor who experienced his greatest success on stage, earning a Tony Award for starring in the 1950s musical Bells Are Ringing, died Tuesday (March 3, 2009) at his Rancho Mirage, Calif., home of complications following a stroke. He was the second son of Charlie Chaplin and his second wife, Lita Grey, an ingenue who married the movie giant when she was 16 and he was 35. Their marriage ended in a sensational divorce when Sydney was a year old. Sydney Chaplin said he was a veteran of World War II before he really came to know his work-obsessed movie star father.
Dr. Ilya Piatetski-Shapiro, whose mathematical contributions stretched over a long career despite hardships as a Jew in the Soviet Union and later the debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease, died Feb. 21 in Tel Aviv, Israel. He was 79. His death was announced last week by Yale University, where he was a professor of mathematics. Working with Dr. James W. Cogdell, his main collaborator over a quarter-century, starting in the mid-1970s, Mr. Piatetski-Shapiro shaped a proof of what is known as the Converse Theorem, which finds some deep relationships between different fields of mathematics.