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12 Other People We Lost in 2013

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Many famous people passed away in 2013, from Patti Page (in January) to Nelson Mandela (in December). In between, we said goodbye to the legends (Lou Reed, Roger Ebert), the tragically young (Cory Monteith, Paul Walker), the much-loved (Annette Funicello, Deanna Durbin) and the political (Margaret Thatcher, Hugo Chavez). Once again, it’s time to remember some of the other significant or inspiring people who left this mortal plane this year—people whose deaths (or whose lives) might not have been on your radar. 

1. and 2. Tony Sheridan (1940-2013) and Sid Bernstein (1918-2013): Beatles discoverers

Many people have made a claim to discovering the Beatles. These two gentlemen, however, have two of the strongest claims. Tony Sheridan, a northern English rock'n’roller, was playing in the German clubs when the Beatles arrived in 1960. He took them under his wing (Paul McCartney called him “The Teacher”), and they made their recording debut as his backup band. He remained in Germany, however, and never became a major star.

Later, New York concert promoter Sid Bernstein (top) turned the Beatles into international superstars. Intrigued by British reports of Beatlemania in 1963 (though he hadn’t yet heard their music), Bernstein persuaded their reluctant manager to send them to the U.S. the following year. None of Bernstein’s colleagues were interested, so he borrowed money himself to book Carnegie Hall. In 1965 he booked them into Shea Stadium, attracting a then-record crowd of 55,000. He also brought other top British bands to America, launching the so-called "British Invasion." 

3. George Gray (1926-2013): liquid crystal wizard

If inventors became famous because of their effect on our everyday lives, Scottish chemist George Gray would be a household name. In the 1950s, he invented stable liquid crystal materials, which led to liquid crystal displays (LCDs). He was originally contracted to the UK Ministry of Defence, but by the late 1960s, LCDs were seen as an alternative to the heavy and expensive cathode-ray tubes used by television sets of the time. Still, it took a few more decades before they became the basis for common flat-screen televisions—not to mention smartphones and MP3 players. There are now more LCD screens in the world than there are people!

4. Mavis Lever (1921-2013): Enigma code-breaker

As an 18-year-old university student at the outset of World War II, Mavis Lever volunteered to be a British army nurse, but was instead recruited by British intelligence. Her job was not to be “Mata Hari seducing Prussian officers,” as she initially thought, but to use her German language skills to decipher secret codes used by Nazi Germany, especially the Enigma code. As many others had studied German, she was not sure why she was chosen, but later noted that Britain’s top code-breaker, Dilly Knox, liked to hire pretty young women for important jobs. It seemed to work; through a mixture of intuition and linguistic skill, she played a key role in at least two major British naval victories. In 1941, Lever and her colleague Margaret Rock deciphered part of a message by the German secret service. With this information, British spies learned that German generals were preparing to repel an Allied invasion of Calais in 1944. On D-Day in 1944, the Allied forces invaded Normandy instead—catching the Germans unaware—in one of the turning points of the war. “Give me a Lever and a Rock,” said Knox, “and I will move the universe.” 

5. Sir Robert Edwards (1925-2013): the other IVF genius

Along with Patrick Steptoe, Yorkshire physiologist Robert Edwards worked for a decade on the most important discovery to treat infertility: in vitro fertilization. In 1978, this led to the first “test tube baby,” Louise Brown, who would regard Edwards as a “grandfather” figure. As of now, there have been more than four million IVF babies. Steptoe, as the senior partner, was more well-known than Edwards. However, as he died in 1988, he missed sharing Edwards’ knighthood and 2010 Nobel Prize.

6. Adrienne Asch (1946-2013): civil rights champion

Like many supporters of women’s rights during the 1970s, ethicist Adrienne Asch favored abortion rights—but not in every case. She strongly opposed the practices of prenatal testing and abortion to avoid bringing children with disabilities into the world. Asch, blind since her childhood, knew that disability did not make her worthless. She graduated in philosophy in 1969, but employers discriminated against her due to her blindness. Not as helpless as they thought, she saw disability as a civil rights issue, fighting for more respect and opportunity for people with disabilities. She later became a clinical psychotherapist, and received a PhD in 1992. 

7. James H. Steele (1913-2013): super-vet

Steele was known as “the father of veterinary public health” for his work to prevent the spread of disease from animals to people. Even the ancients knew that animals spread disease, and numerous epidemics have happened over the millennia to remind us. However, after all that time, it was left to Steele to pioneer mass vaccination for animals—not just to protect them, but to protect humans as well. Steele brought more attention to zoonoses—diseases that spread from animals to humans. As these include 70 percent of diseases to emerge in the last 20 years (including West Nile virus, monkeypox and mad cow disease), he might yet prove to be one of the most important medical innovators of the past century. 

8. and 9. Mother Antonia Brenner (1926-2013) and Sister Mary Nerney (1938-2013): prison angels

Some people who died this year were notable for their goodness as much as their great achievements. Mother Antonia Brenner, twice-divorced and active in charity work, left the high life of Beverly Hills at age 50 to be ordained as a Roman Catholic nun. She devoted herself to helping the inmates at Mexico’s notorious La Mesa state penitentiary, and lived in a cell at La Mesa for more than 30 years to be closer to them. Inmates recalled that she once walked fearlessly into the middle of a prison riot, avoiding the bullets and tear gas. But when the inmates saw her, they stopped fighting.

Another Roman Catholic nun, Sister Mary Nerney, was an equally tireless advocate for female convicts, especially survivors of domestic violence (who were, in many cases, imprisoned for murdering the perpetrators). She started Project Green Hope (to help reintegrate ex-prisoners into society) and Steps to End Family Violence (which assists battered men as well as women). 

10. Natalya Gorbanevskaya (1936-2013): freedom fighter

A Russian dissident, Natalya Gorbanevskaya protested in Moscow’s Red Square in 1968 when Russian troops sent tanks into Czechoslovakia to quell the Prague Spring. Unlike most of her fellow protesters, she avoided arrest. Her activities, however, became even more courageous: forming a civil rights group; co-founding The Chronicle of Current Events, an influential underground newspaper focusing on civil rights news; and publishing a book about the trials of her arrested comrades. She was finally arrested in 1969 and thrown into a psychiatric prison for “continuous sluggish schizophrenia.” Joan Baez’ song “Natalya” was inspired by her plight. “It is because of people like Natalya Gorbanevskaya, I am convinced,” said Baez, “that you and I are still alive and walking around on the face of the earth.”

Happily, Natalya was released in 1972 and became known as an influential poet—whose poems, it so happened, rarely mentioned politics. Shortly before her death, she returned to Red Square with nine other demonstrators, to commemorate on the 45th anniversary of the Russian tanks. They were arrested for holding an unsanctioned rally.

11. Raymond Cusick (1928-2013): Dalek designer

BBC production designer Ray Cusick died early in 2013, just as the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebrations were being planned. He had designed the Daleks, the show’s most popular alien monsters. Presented with a very low budget, and the directive to avoid making them look like a “man in the suit,” he envisioned them as robot-like creatures who resembled pepper-pots. (Indeed, he demonstrated them to a model-maker by gliding a pepper-pot across a table.) The children of Britain were scared witless by these metallic killing machines, making the Daleks an instant success—and making Doctor Who a must-see kids’ television show. Cusick designed other monsters for Doctor Who, and worked on more earthly television shows like Miss Marple, but would never equal the Daleks. 

12. Mark Sutton (1971-2013): the Queen’s favourite James Bond

As Andy Warhol said, everyone might someday be famous for 15 minutes. Other people might provide an immortal moment, but they still might not become famous. Mark Sutton was one such person. In one of the opening ceremony highlights of the 2012 London Olympics, James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II parachuted into the Olympic Stadium. It was a terrific surprise – funny, ridiculous, thrilling and completely unexpected. However, the Bond who parachuted was not Daniel Craig, but Sutton, a veteran stuntman. (The Queen? No, that wasn’t her either. That was another stuntman, Gary Connery.) Sadly, Sutton died after hitting a cliff during a jump in Switzerland.

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Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
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Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 118th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."

Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."

Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."

By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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35 Things You Might Not Know About Mister Rogers
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In this episode of our YouTube series, John Green brings you a whole pile of things you should know about everybody's favorite neighbor. Here's a transcript, courtesy of Nerdfighteria:

Hi, I'm John Green, welcome to my neighborhood. This is mental_floss, and today we're going to talk about Mr. Rogers, with whom I have a lot in common. By the way, thanks to copyright laws, that's the only picture of Mr. Rogers we can afford, so you'll be seeing a lot of it today. But yes, Fred Rogers and I have many similarities:

1. We both considered becoming ministers (he actually did).

2. Both happily married to women named Sara(h).

And we both make stuff for young people... although I don't think that his work has been banned from several dozen high schools in Tennessee.

[intro music]

3. Mr. Rogers was an Ivy League dropout. He completed his freshman year at Dartmouth, and then transferred to Rollins College so he could get a degree in music.

4. And he was an excellent piano player; not only did he graduate from Rollins "Magna cum laude," but he wrote all of the songs on the show, as well as more than 200 other songs, and several kids' operas including one called "All in the Laundry."

5. Mr. Rogers decided to get into television, because when he saw it for the first time he, "hated it so." When he turned on a set, all he saw was angry people throwing pies in each others' faces, and he vowed to use the medium to make the world a better place.

6. Over the years, he talked to kids about their feelings, covering topics as varied as why kids shouldn't be afraid of haircuts, or the bathroom drain (because you won't fit), to bigger issues like divorce and war.

7. In the opening sequence of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, the stoplight is always on yellow. That's a reminder to kids and parents to slow down a little.

8. Also, Mr. Rogers wasn't afraid of dead air time, unlike me: Once he invited a marine biologist and explorer onto his program to put a microphone into his fish tank, because he wanted to show the kids at home that fish make sounds when they eat. However, while taping the segment, the fish weren't hungry so the marine biologist started trying to egg the fish on, saying "C'mon," "It's Chowtime," "Dinnerbell." But Mr. Rogers just waited quietly. The crew thought he'd want to re-tape it, but Mr. Rogers just kept it... to show kids the importance of being patient.

9. Fred Rogers was a perfectionist, and so he disliked ad-libbing. He felt that he owed it to children to make sure that every word on his show was thought out. But here at mental_floss, we love ad libbing because it's much less work.

10. In a Yale psychology study, when Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood went "head to head," kids who watched Mr. Rogers not only remembered more of the story lines, but their, "Tolerance of delay," a fancy term for their ability to wait for promised treats or adult attention, was considerably higher.

11. Mr. Rogers was also beloved by Koko the Gorilla, you know Koko the Stanford educated Gorilla who can speak about 1000 words in American Sign Language; she watched The Neighborhood, and when Mr. Rogers made a trip to meet her, she not only embraced him but she did what she'd always see him do on screen: She proceeded to take his shoes off.

12. Those shoes were store bought, by the way, but every one of the cardigans Mr. Rogers wore on his show was knit by his mother.

13. Today one of them resides in the Smithsonian - a red one. Mr. Rogers chose to donate that sweater, because the cameras at his studio didn't pick up the color very well.

14. Mr. Rogers could start to feel anxious and overwhelmed, and when he did, he liked to play the chords to the show's theme song on the piano on set in order to calm himself.

15. The other way you could tell he was exasperated? If he said the word, "mercy." Mostly, he said it when he got to his desk in the morning, and the mountains of fan mail were a little bit too tall. But, "mercy" was about the strongest word in his vocabulary.

16. And yes, Mr. Rogers responded to every single piece of fan mail. He had the same routine every morning: wake up at 5:00AM. Pray for a few hours for all of his friends and family, study, write, make calls, reach out to every single fan who took the time to write him, go for a morning swim, get on a scale, then start the day. My morning routine is a bit less ambitious than that; Mr. Rogers, I thought you were supposed to make me feel good about myself! You just made me feel terrible!

17. But speaking of that daily weigh-in, Mr. Rogers watched his weight very closely. And he'd like to weigh exactly 143 lbs (65 kg). By the way, he didn't drink, smoke, or eat the flesh of any animal. NATCH.

18. Why did Mr. Rogers like the number 1-4-3 so much? Because it takes 1 letter to say "I", 4 letters to say "love," and 3 letters to say, "you" (Jean --Luc Picard).

19. Now it starts to get a little weird. So, journalists had a tough time covering Mr. Rogers because he'd often, like befriend them, ask them tons of questions, take pictures of them, compile an album for them at the end of their time together, and then call them afterwards to check in on them and hear about their families. He genuinely loved hearing the life stories of other people.

20. And it wasn't just reporters. Like once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS executive's house, he heard the limo driver was gonna have to wait outside for two hours, so Mr. Rogers insisted that the driver come in and join them. And then, on the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver's house on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet the family. And according to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life. The house lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night.

21. Okay, so thieves, Smithsonian curators, reporters, limo drivers, kids, all these people loved Mr. Rogers, but someone has to hate him, right? Well, LSU professor Don Chance certainly doesn't love his legacy: He believes that Mr. Rogers created a, "culture of excessive doting" which resulted in generations of lazy, entitled college students... and that makes sense, because generally the deterioration of culture can be traced back to a single public television program.

22. Other curious theories about Mr. Rogers that are all over the Internet: That he served in the army and was a sniper in Vietnam;

23. That he served in the army and was a sniper in Korea;

24. That he only wore sweaters to cover up the tattoos on his arms. These are all untrue. He was never in the army; he never shot anyone; he had no tattoos.

25. One other rumor we'd like to quash? That he used to chase kids off his porch on Halloween. That's crazy! In fact, his house was known for being one of those generous homes that give out full-size candy bars... because of course it was!

26. In fact, for all the myths that people want to create about him, Mr. Rogers seems to have been almost exactly the same person "off screen," as he was, "onscreen." As an ordained Presbyterian minister and a man of tremendous faith, Mr. Rogers preached tolerance first. He never engaged in the culture wars; all he would ever say is, "God loves you just the way you are."

27. He was also kind of a superhero, like when the government wanted to cut public television funds in 1969, the then relatively unknown Mr. Rogers went to Washington and almost like straight out of a Capra film, his testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens was so passionate and convincing, that even the most gruff politicians were charmed... and instead of cutting the budget, funding for public TV jumped from $9M to $22M.

28. Years later, Mr. Rogers also swayed the Supreme Court to allow VCR's to record TV shows from home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family. Plus, it allowed him to watch Captain Stubing on The Love Boat anytime he wanted, without having to stay up till 8:30PM.

29. He was also heavily parodied, but most of the people who made fun of him, loved him. Like Johnny Carson hoped his send up of The Neighborhood would make Mr. Rogers more famous.

30. And the first time Eddie Murphy met Mr. Rogers, he couldn't stop himself from giving the guy a big hug.

All right, we're running out of time, so let's speed this up.

31. Mr. Rogers was color-blind. I mean that figuratively, like his parents took in African-American foster children, and he loved people of all backgrounds equally, but also literally.

32. Michael Keaton got his start on the show: He was a puppeteer and worked the trolley.

33. Mr. Rogers once made a guest appearance on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman as a pastor's mentor.

34. And many of the characters on his show took their names from his family. Like, McFeely was his grandfather's name, Queen Sara is named for his wife.

35. And lastly, we return to the Salon so I can tell you probably my favorite story about Mr. Rogers: that he could make a whole New York City subway car full of strangers sing. He was rushing to a meeting and there were no cabs available so Mr. Rogers jumped on the subway. The car was full of people, Rogers assumed that he wouldn't be noticed, but he quickly was, of course, and then people burst into song, chanting, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood."

Thanks for watching mental_floss, which is made with the help of all of these lovely people and remember that you make every day special just by being you.

See Also...

20 Gentle Quotes from Mister Rogers
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Mister Rogers on the Set of The Incredible Hulk
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11 Scenes from the Mister Rogers Christmas Special

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