Remembering 10 People We Lost in 2010

This past year, like every year, many celebrated and significant people left us – an eclectic group, from Alexander Haig to Gary Coleman, from Lynn Redgrave to J.D. Salinger. With one tragic jetliner crash, we lost much of Poland’s political elite. But here, as published each year, are some of the other people whose deaths you might not have noticed, whose names you might not know, but who are certainly worth saluting.

1. Tsutomu Yamaguchi: Double A-Bomb Survivor

This Japanese engineer had a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time… but his appearance on this list suggests that he was a very lucky man. Yamaguchi was on business in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, when it became the first city struck by an atom bomb. Badly burned, he went home to Nagasaki three days later… and once again, found himself facing an atom bomb attack. Last year the Japanese government formally recognized him as the sole “nijuuhibaku”, the only person officially recognized to have survived the A-bomb attacks on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He later became a teacher and worked for Mitsubishi. But he believed that the radioactive fallout had delayed side-effects. When his son died of cancer in 1995, Yamaguchi blamed the radioactivity in his bloodstream. This inspired him to become an anti-nuclear campaigner, writing his memoirs and addressing the United Nations.

On the subject of lucky war survivors, 2010 also saw the passing of U.S. Air Force flyer Col. Bud Mahurin, who was shot down over both the Atlantic and Pacific during World War II… and once again during the Korean War, for old times’ sake. (It wasn’t all agony for him. He was also the only American to shoot down enemy planes over both oceans during World War II.)

2. Francisco Varallo: World Cup Survivor

Paul the Octopus wasn’t the only significant football World Cup death this year.

Another football luminary lived to be 98 years older than the famous eight-limbed clairvoyant. Francisco Varallo, the last surviving player of the first-ever World Cup final in 1930, was a forward for Argentina, known for his bravery and accurate shooting. Argentina (still a football superpower) lost 4-2 to Uruguay in the 1930 final, played in Montevideo. At the time, of course, the World Cup had yet to become the world’s most popular sporting event.

It was a big year to say goodbye to "last survivors." In addition to Varallo (who was 100), 2010 saw the deaths of Jack Babcock, 109, Canada’s last World War I army veteran; Jeanette Scola Trapani, the last survivor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire (!), who was four years old when the city was leveled; and (less distantly) Willard Wirtz, the last surviving member of President Kennedy’s cabinet.

3. Vladimir Raitz: Package Holiday Pioneer

Vladimir Raitz, a Russian Jew who had moved to London a child, invented the modern package holiday. The idea had come when a Russian friend invited him to a beachside “holiday camp” in Corsica, set up for Soviet expatriates. Here, Raitz saw the potential for selling happiness to the depressed, post-war UK. With £3,000 inherited from his grandmother, Raitz chartered surplus British military aircraft and set up Horizon Holidays in 1949. Eleven paying customers boarded a Dakota DC3 from London for the maiden flight in 1950. The tourists were treated to a week in the sun, staying on the beach in large canvas tents (each with two beds). It was a hit. Middle-class Britons could now visit the Meditteranean – a comparative luxury, previously available only to the wealthy – for an affordable price, with meals and local wine included.

Within a few years, Horizon was flying to many destinations in Europe, and established airlines had to lower their prices to keep up with Horizon’s bargains. According to critics, the tourists were loud, uncouth drunks – the ugly side of English travelers. Yet Raitz argued that he was bringing “a social revolution” to the average Briton.

“The man in the street acquired a taste for wine, for foreign food, started to learn French, Spanish or Italian, made friends in the foreign lands he had visited,” he said. Whatever the case, Raitz helped to start a tourism boom.

4. Beatrice Sinclair: Reluctant Role Model

If you were the model for a famous fictitious character who brought smiles to millions on a classic television series, you would probably be flattered. If this character had been polled as the series’ most admired character, you would have every reason to be happy, right? Sadly, Beatrice Sinclair didn’t see it that way. She was the model for hotelier Sybil Fawlty in the 1970s British sitcom Fawlty Towers. While Sybil’s husband Basil (played by John Cleese) was inept and rude to guests, Sybil herself (Prunella Scales) was formidable, if somewhat bossy and intimidating. The hilarious Fawlty Towers, sometimes voted Britain’s greatest-ever TV show, was based on a hotel where Cleese stayed in 1970, while filming with the Monty Python comedy team. Cleese remembered the manager, war hero Donald Sinclair, as “the most wonderfully rude man I have ever met,” and his wife Beatrice as domineering.

Though she refused to talk about Fawlty Towers for 30 years, Beatrice said in 2002 that the series was unfair to her late husband, who had been “turned into a laughing stock.” “The entire [Monty Python] cast behaved so badly it beggared belief,” she recalled of their stay in the hotel, “and if there was one thing my husband couldn’t stand, it was bad manners.”

She did note, however, that Cleese and his co-writer Connie Booth were correct that she was the driving force in the hotel, starting the business while Donald was serving in World War II. She sold the hotel after his death in 1981, and the new owners attracted tourists with Fawlty Towers-themed events. She steadfastly refused to be involved.

5. “Baby” Marie Osborne: Hollywood’s First Child

In our list two years ago, we saluted Anita Page, one of the last surviving stars of the silent movie era. However, she wasn’t the very last. Child actor Virginia Davis, who starred in many of Walt Disney’s early films, passed away last year – and 2010 saw the death of Hollywood’s first major child star, Marie Osborne, an audience favorite during World War I. Osborne (nee Helen Alice Myres) was born in Colorado in 1911, made her movie debut at age three, and starred in nearly 30 pictures before she was 10, including Little Marie Sunshine and Joy and the Dragon (both 1916), usually billed as “Baby Marie.”

“I set the trend for virtually every other child star that followed,” she said, nearly 90 years later – but she wasn’t proud. “I was the first of Hollywood’s washed-up child stars.” By her tenth birthday, her career was over and her foster parents, struggling actors, had frittered away her hard-earned fortune on their gilded Hollywood lifestyle. As an adult, she appeared in numerous films as an extra, or a stand-in for various stars, both children (Deanna Durbin) and adults (Ginger Rogers, Betty Hutton). After World War II, she worked as a costume supervisor. Once the youngest of Hollywood’s stars, her death at age 99 would suggest that she must surely be the last of Hollywood’s silent stars — except late-1920s star Barbara Kent is still apparently living in Idaho at age 104!

6. Doris Eaton Travis: Last of the Ziegfeld Girls

Like Marie Osborne, Doris Eaton Travis was the last of her era – and while “Baby” Marie was just short of 100, Travis achieved an even greater feat. The 5-foot-2 showgirl was the last of the legendary chorus girls of the Ziegfeld Follies, which brought glamor and sex appeal to the Broadway stage in the early twentieth century. Discovered by the legendary producer Florenz Zeigfeld (the Hugh Hefner of his time), many of the Ziegfeld girls (Marion Davies, Billie Burke, Louise Brooks, Barbara Stanwyck) became stars in their own right before the Follies ended in 1931. Travis continued to sing and dance in Broadway shows, and later had a second career as a dance instructor. At a reunion of Ziegfeld girls (only four of them) in 1997, she proved that she was the only one who could still dance. Eventually, she outlived all the others by a) being the youngest when she joined in 1918, aged only 14, and b) living to the age of 106.

7. David Warren: Life-Saving Inventor

Australian wireless enthusiast David Warren’s invention did not make him wealthy or famous. However, he was happy in the knowledge that it had saved untold thousands of lives. As a rocket fuels chemist in 1954, researching a series of unexplained high-altitude explosions involving Britain’s de Havilland Comet (the world’s first jet airliner), Warren noted that, had it been possible to record the events in the aircraft before the explosion, the mystery would have been solved easily. Using his prowess as a tinkerer, he developed the “black box” flight memory recorder, which could store four hours of crew conversations and eight instrument readings in a casing strong enough to withstand fire or explosion. (If the whole aircraft were made of the same casing, it would be too heavy to leave the ground!)

Though it initially had a lukewarm reception, the device was eventually sold to Britain. Countless times, the ability to recover the data after a crash has allowed manufacturers and safety authorities to correct oversights and design flaws, preventing similar accidents. Similar devices are now installed in trains and ships. One problem: the “black box” is usually orange, yellow, or red. But with all these lives saved, that’s just nitpicking!

8. George Nissen: Inventor with Bounce

Inspired by trapeze artists leaping off small “bouncing beds,” Iowa teenager George Nissen invented the trampoline in 1934. Basically a large-scale bouncing bed, it was originally used as a gimmick by Nissen and two university classmates in their acrobatic troupe, the Three Leonardos. The name “trampoline,” a Spanish word for diving board, was adopted while touring Mexico City. Going into business with his college gymnastics coach, he marketed the trampolines with little success, until the US military used them to train pilots and parachutists. By the 1960s (as “bounce centers”), they became a fad, in backyards all over the world, and Nissen designed other gym equipment. He visited Sydney for the 2000 Olympics, to see the start of trampolining as an event. In so doing, he became one of the very few people in history to witness his invention become an Olympic sport. “That was always my goal and my dream,” he said. “The struggle and the journey—that's the Olympic spirit.”

9. Lawrence Garfinkel: The Bane of Big Tobacco

It’s astonishing today to realize that, until 1948, smoking was not generally linked to lung cancer, nor even to bad health – and perhaps nobody did more to enlighten us of this shocking truth than Lawrence Garfinkel. The studies that exposed the links were co-designed by Garfinkel, an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society. Remarkably, Garfinkel (a lifetime non-smoker) had no relevant scientific qualifications, joined the ACS as a statistical clerk, and learned epidemiology on the job. Nonetheless, he ultimately published 147 articles in scientific journals on the link between cancer and many lifestyle aspects, mostly famously smoking.

Despite all the best efforts of the tobacco industry, Garfinkel’s work ensured that cigarettes and cancer are now inextricably linked. Were in not for Garfinkel, cigarettes might still be advertised during children’s television hours (by such characters as Fred Flintstone), and they would certainly not be sold with warning labels.

10. Helen Wagner: Turning for 54 Years

She never had the awards of Katharine Hepburn, or the popularity of Lucille Ball, but veteran actress Helen Wagner could boast an equally impressive record. Though the soap opera As the World Turns seemingly began at the dawn of time, it really lasted a mere 54 years – that’s 19,700 turns – and through that, there was one constant: Nancy Hughes, the Wagner’s mild-mannered character. She spoke the first line (“Good morning, dear”) when the series premiered in April 1956, and the 91-year-old Wagner was last seen on the series this year, soon after the CBS had announced its cancellation – with eerie precision. She held the Guinness record for the longest time that one actor has inhabited a television character (a record that will not be equaled for at least four years, if actor William Roache is still in British soap opera Coronation Street).

After all these decades, actor and character might become so close that they are difficult to tell apart – but fortunately for Wagner, Nancy was not central to any of the more shocking storylines involving drugs or incest. “Nothing ever happens to Nancy,” admitted Wagner.

Mark Juddery is an author and historian based in Australia. His latest book, Overrated: The 50 Most Overhyped Things in History (Perigree), is already causing a stir. You can order it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can see a slideshow excerpt from the book, and you can argue with Mark's choices (or suggest new ones) on his blog. Mark offers one tip: If you want to say "This book is overrated"... it's been done.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
Michael Campanella/Getty Images
Michael Campanella/Getty Images

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.


"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles


"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole


"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles



"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole


"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles


"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios

"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole

How Apple's '1984' Super Bowl Ad Was Almost Canceled

More than 30 years ago, Apple defined the Super Bowl commercial as a cultural phenomenon. Prior to Super Bowl XVIII, nobody watched the game "just for the commercials"—but one epic TV spot, directed by sci-fi legend Ridley Scott, changed all that. Read on for the inside story of the commercial that rocked the world of advertising, even though Apple's Board of Directors didn't want to run it at all.


If you haven't seen it, here's a fuzzy YouTube version:

"WHY 1984 WON'T BE LIKE 1984"

The tagline "Why 1984 Won't Be Like '1984'" references George Orwell's 1949 novel 1984, which envisioned a dystopian future, controlled by a televised "Big Brother." The tagline was written by Brent Thomas and Steve Hayden of the ad firm Chiat\Day in 1982, and the pair tried to sell it to various companies (including Apple, for the Apple II computer) but were turned down repeatedly. When Steve Jobs heard the pitch in 1983, he was sold—he saw the Macintosh as a "revolutionary" product, and wanted advertising to match. Jobs saw IBM as Big Brother, and wanted to position Apple as the world's last chance to escape IBM's domination of the personal computer industry. The Mac was scheduled to launch in late January of 1984, a week after the Super Bowl. IBM already held the nickname "Big Blue," so the parallels, at least to Jobs, were too delicious to miss.

Thomas and Hayden wrote up the story of the ad: we see a world of mind-controlled, shuffling men all in gray, staring at a video screen showing the face of Big Brother droning on about "information purification directives." A lone woman clad in vibrant red shorts and a white tank-top (bearing a Mac logo) runs from riot police, dashing up an aisle towards Big Brother. Just before being snatched by the police, she flings a sledgehammer at Big Brother's screen, smashing him just after he intones "We shall prevail!" Big Brother's destruction frees the minds of the throng, who quite literally see the light, flooding their faces now that the screen is gone. A mere eight seconds before the one-minute ad concludes, a narrator briefly mentions the word "Macintosh," in a restatement of that original tagline: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'" An Apple logo is shown, and then we're out—back to the game.

In 1983, in a presentation about the Mac, Jobs introduced the ad to a cheering audience of Apple employees:

"... It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and -controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?"

After seeing the ad for the first time, the Apple audience totally freaked out (jump to about the 5-minute mark to witness the riotous cheering).


Chiat\Day hired Ridley Scott, whose 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner had the dystopian tone they were looking for (and Alien wasn't so bad either). Scott filmed the ad in London, using actual skinheads playing the mute bald men—they were paid $125 a day to sit and stare at Big Brother; those who still had hair were paid to shave their heads for the shoot. Anya Major, a discus thrower and actress, was cast as the woman with the sledgehammer largely because she was actually capable of wielding the thing.

Mac programmer Andy Hertzfeld wrote an Apple II program "to flash impressive looking numbers and graphs on [Big Brother's] screen," but it's unclear whether his program was used for the final film. The ad cost a shocking $900,000 to film, plus Apple booked two premium slots during the Super Bowl to air it—carrying an airtime cost of more than $1 million.


Although Jobs and his marketing team (plus the assembled throng at his 1983 internal presentation) loved the ad, Apple's Board of Directors hated it. After seeing the ad for the first time, board member Mike Markkula suggested that Chiat\Day be fired, and the remainder of the board were similarly unimpressed. Then-CEO John Sculley recalled the reaction after the ad was screened for the group: "The others just looked at each other, dazed expressions on their faces ... Most of them felt it was the worst commercial they had ever seen. Not a single outside board member liked it." Sculley instructed Chiat\Day to sell off the Super Bowl airtime they had purchased, but Chiat\Day principal Jay Chiat quietly resisted. Chiat had purchased two slots—a 60-second slot in the third quarter to show the full ad, plus a 30-second slot later on to repeat an edited-down version. Chiat sold only the 30-second slot and claimed it was too late to sell the longer one. By disobeying his client's instructions, Chiat cemented Apple's place in advertising history.

When Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak heard that the ad was in trouble, he offered to pony up half the airtime costs himself, saying, "I asked how much it was going to cost, and [Steve Jobs] told me $800,000. I said, 'Well, I'll pay half of it if you will.' I figured it was a problem with the company justifying the expenditure. I thought an ad that was so great a piece of science fiction should have its chance to be seen."

But Woz didn't have to shell out the money; the executive team finally decided to run a 100-day advertising extravaganza for the Mac's launch, starting with the Super Bowl ad—after all, they had already paid to shoot it and were stuck with the airtime.

1984 - Big Brother


When the ad aired, controversy erupted—viewers either loved or hated the ad, and it spurred a wave of media coverage that involved news shows replaying the ad as part of covering it, leading to estimates of an additional $5 million in "free" airtime for the ad. All three national networks, plus countless local markets, ran news stories about the ad. "1984" become a cultural event, and served as a blueprint for future Apple product launches. The marketing logic was brilliantly simple: create an ad campaign that sparked controversy (for example, by insinuating that IBM was like Big Brother), and the media will cover your launch for free, amplifying the message.

The full ad famously ran once during the Super Bowl XVIII (on January 22, 1984), but it also ran the month prior—on December 31, 1983, TV station operator Tom Frank ran the ad on KMVT at the last possible time slot before midnight, in order to qualify for 1983's advertising awards.* (Any awards the ad won would mean more media coverage.) Apple paid to screen the ad in movie theaters before movie trailers, further heightening anticipation for the Mac launch. In addition to all that, the 30-second version was aired across the country after its debut on the Super Bowl.

Chiat\Day adman Steve Hayden recalled: "We ran a 30- second version of '1984' in the top 10 U.S. markets, plus, in an admittedly childish move, in an 11th market—Boca Raton, Florida, headquarters for IBM's PC division." Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld ended his remembrance of the ad by saying:

"A week after the Macintosh launch, Apple held its January board meeting. The Macintosh executive staff was invited to attend, not knowing what to expect. When the Mac people entered the room, everyone on the board rose and gave them a standing ovation, acknowledging that they were wrong about the commercial and congratulating the team for pulling off a fantastic launch.

Chiat\Day wanted the commercial to qualify for upcoming advertising awards, so they ran it once at 1 AM at a small television station in Twin Falls, Idaho, KMVT, on December 15, 1983 [incorrect; see below for an update on this -ed]. And sure enough it won just about every possible award, including best commercial of the decade. Twenty years later it's considered one of the most memorable television commercials ever made."


A year later, Apple again employed Chiat\Day to make a blockbuster ad for their Macintosh Office product line, which was basically a file server, networking gear, and a laser printer. Directed by Ridley Scott's brother Tony, the new ad was called "Lemmings," and featured blindfolded businesspeople whistling an out-of-tune version of Snow White's "Heigh-Ho" as they followed each other off a cliff (referencing the myth of lemming suicide).

Jobs and Sculley didn't like the ad, but Chiat\Day convinced them to run it, pointing out that the board hadn't liked the last ad either. But unlike the rousing, empowering message of the "1984" ad, "Lemmings" directly insulted business customers who had already bought IBM computers. It was also weirdly boring—when it was aired at the Super Bowl (with Jobs and Sculley in attendance), nobody really reacted. The ad was a flop, and Apple even proposed running a printed apology in The Wall Street Journal. Jay Chiat shot back, saying that if Apple apologized, Chiat would buy an ad on the next page, apologizing for the apology. It was a mess:


In 2004, the ad was updated for the launch of the iPod. The only change was that the woman with the hammer was now listening to an iPod, which remained clipped to her belt as she ran. You can watch that version too:


Chiat\Day adman Lee Clow gave an interview about the ad, covering some of this material.

Check out Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld's excellent first-person account of the ad. A similar account (but with more from Jobs's point of view) can found in the Steve Jobs biography, and an even more in-depth account is in The Mac Bathroom Reader. The Mac Bathroom Reader is out of print; you can read an excerpt online, including QuickTime movies of the two versions of the ad, plus a behind-the-scenes video. Finally, you might enjoy this 2004 USA Today article about the ad, pointing out that ads for other computers (including Atari, Radio Shack, and IBM's new PCjr) also ran during that Super Bowl.

* = A Note on the Airing in 1983

Update: Thanks to Tom Frank for writing in to correct my earlier mis-statement about the first air date of this commercial. As you can see in his comment below, Hertzfeld's comments above (and the dates cited in other accounts I've seen) are incorrect. Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Frank, in which we discuss what it was like running both "1984" and "Lemmings" before they were on the Super Bowl!

Update 2: You can read the story behind this post in Chris's book The Blogger Abides.

This post originally appeared in 2012.


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