Gore Vidal, brilliant, provocative American writer, has died

Gore Vidal, one of America's most prolific, brilliant, and provocative writers of all time, died yesterday at his Hollywood Hills home.

Vidal was an unapologetic aristocrat. The son of an airlines titan and a socialite, the grandson of a United States Senator, and the stepson of Jacqueline Kennedy's stepfather, Vidal attended the exclusive St. Albans School in Washington, D.c. and New Hampshire's Phillips Exeter Academy. It was at the former where he fell in love with Jimmie Trimble (killed in WW II); the romance shaped his powerful coming-out novel, The City and the Pillar (1948), which, although tame by today's standards, created a firestorm in the literary world. At Exeter, his fellow student, John Knowles, later used Vidal as his model for Brinker Hadley, a character in A Separate Peace (1959).

Gore's writing gifts crossed all genres. He penned powerful, widely praised historical novels, including Washington, D.C. (1967) and Burr (1973). He was a consummate playwright and screenplay writer. His adaptation of his own play, The Best Man: A Play about Politics (1960), became a successful movie by the same name in 1964, starring Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson who played political rivals, vying for the Presidency amidst a dirty, smear-filled campaign.

He won a 1982 National Book Critics Circle Award for The Second American Revolution and Other Essays (1976-1982), a collection of essays. In 2009, the National Book Awards bestowed on him its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Twice he ran for political office -- In 1960, Eleanor Roosevelt encouraged him to try for the 29th New York Congressional seat. His platform, tax the rich, won him more Democratic votes in that Republican stronghold than at any other time in the past 50 years, but he lost the race.

Two years later in California, he also lost his bid for a seat in the United States Senate.

His public life was quite colorful. He head-butted author Norman Mailer when both were guests on The Dick Cavett Show. He sued Truman Capote for libel (and won an apology). He and William F. Buckley called each other dreadful names, another argument which was played out in the courts. And he shocked readers with his take on Timothy McVeigh and the September 11th attacks in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be so Hated (2002).

Mr. Vidal, who was 86, died of complications from pneumonia.

Sally Ride, America's first woman astronaut, has died

Dr. Sally Ride, a physicist who made history when she answered a 1982 NASA newspaper ad for astronauts, died yesterday in San Diego.

Dr. Ride broke two records with her first of two spaceflights in 1983. Not only was she the first American woman to reach the stars, she was also the youngest astronaut in America's space program to do so.

A brilliant scholar with degrees in physics, astrophysics, and English, Dr. Ride spent her first year at NASA before her 1983 flight aboard the Challenger learning how to fly a jet plane and assisting in the development of a robotic arm. It was inevitable that her historic trip was immortalized by the endless playing of Wilson Pickett's song Mustang Sally, whose chorus consists of the lyrics, "All you want to do is ride around Sally, ride, Sally, ride."

Dr. Ride spent another eight days in space in 1984. After her retirement in 1987, she returned to academics and wrote several books for children about science and space, including To Space & Back (1986) and Exploring Our Solar System (2003). She also started a company in 2001, Sally Ride Science, which funneled her deep love and passion for science into programs and training for schools and teachers.

Dr. Ride, who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer, was 61.

Full Day Kindergarten

Ann Arbor Kindergarteners are going to school for a full day beginning this fall. This means they will have more time for ABCs, 123s, and stories We have fun picture books and informational books for parents, to help your future fulltime Kindergartener get in the mind set!

Bob Babbitt, Funk Brothers bassist, has died

Bob Babbitt rockin' bass player for the Funk Brothers, THE studio band for Motown's heaviest hitters, died Monday In Nashville, TN.

Babbitt moved to Detroit in the 1950s while still in his teens. Then from 1959 until Motown relocated to Los Angeles in 1972, the Funk Brothers backed up every megawatt performer from Stevie Wonder to the Temptations to Marvin Gaye to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, to name just a few.

A 2002 documentary, Standing in the Shadows of Motown brought the Funk Brothers out of obscurity, especially after the group received a Lifetime Achievement award at the 2004 Grammys.

In 2008, the Funk Brothers packed the house at a concert which was part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.

Mr. Babbitt, who was 74, died of an inoperable brain tumor.

Kitty Wells, country music's first woman superstar, has died

Kitty Wells, country music's acknowledged first female superstar, died yesterday at her Tennessee home.

Her leap to stardom with the much-loved standard, It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels, almost didn't happen. She had been singing and perform since 1936, a year before she married her husband of more than 70 years, Johnnie Wright. In 1952, she was on the verge of retiring to become a fulltime wife and mother. But she agreed to record Honky Tonk Angels to collect the union-scale fee.

Angels became an instant hit, despite being initially banned by NBC radio and the Grand Ole Opry (too racy). Not only did the recording top the country charts for six weeks, it also made it onto the pop Top 40, forcing Nashville to rethink its belief that women country singers would not be money makers.

Ms. Wells was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976. Fifteen years later, she became the third country western performer (after Hank Williams and Roy Acuff) to receive a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Ms. Wells, who was 92, died of complications from a stroke. Her survivors include two children, eight grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren.

Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits franchise, has died

Stephen R. Covey,author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective... series of books, has died.

Covey's lifelong interest in effective management skills and personal organizational and leadership abilities coalesced into seven principles for living a more meaningful life, thus giving birth to four books based on those themes, including positive thinking, proactive living, and synergy, to name three. His first book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic was published to tremendous success in 1989.It was later followed by the equally popular The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families: Building a Beautiful Family Culture in a Turbulent World (1987), as well as The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens: The Ultimate Teenage Success Guide (1998).

Covey was also instrumental in the longtime success of the Franklin Planner, a paper management system which kept business people and government employees on track until the advent of PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants).

Mr. Covey, who was 79, died of complications from a head injury suffered in a bike accident in April of this year.

Donald Sobol, creator of beloved children's character, Encyclopedia Brown, has died

Donald Sobol, who created Encyclopedia Brown, one of the most beloved of classic children's characters, died today.

Sobol's writing career began as a copyboy and then reporter for the New York Sun newspaper back in the 50s. In 1963, he published the first Encyclopedia Brown book, Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective. In each of the 39 books in the series, Leroy (a.k.a. Encyclopedia) Brown, is a 10-year old genius. The format for each book is that Brown faces ten mysteries. The reader is given a chance to solve the mystery, before consulting with the answers in the back of the book.

This formula has worked for nearly 40 years. In 1997, Sobol updated Brown's wardrobe, dressing him out in a work shirt and jeans in Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablo's Nose. Six years later, Sobol marked Brown's 40th anniversary with the release of Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Jumping Frogs.

Sobol also penned a popular syndicated newspaper feature, his Two-Minute Mysteries.

Mr. Sobol's death (he was 87) immediately began trending on Twitter as news spread and fans of all ages mourned his passing with tender tributes about what their books meant to them.

Bus riders! TransitTime + has added AATA's The Ride to its app

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority just announced that the award-winning app, TransitTimes + has added Ann Arbor to its list of more than 50 cities that provide details about their transportation modes to this popular app.

Now you can easily locate The Ride's bus schedules, the location of your particular bus and its arrival time, or map out and save a route to a new location.

To see how easy this app is to use, check out TransitTimes' YouTube channel here.

For more information about this app and to see the growing list of U.S. and international cities being added all the time, click here.

Ernest Borgnine, Oscar winner, has died

Ernest Borgnine, who moved audiences to tears with his sweet, nuanced portrayal of a common man in love in Marty (1955), died yesterday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Ironically, Borgnine's first notable role was anything by sweet. He played Fatso Judson, a murderous sergeant in From Here to Eternity (1953).

Borgnine's wide-ranging acting chops took another big turn when he moved over to television and starred in the 1960s ABC sitcom, McHale's Navy. In this popular series, Borgnine was the lovable rapscallion, Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale.

His acting resume is enormous -- The Dirty Dozen (1967), ice Station Zebra (1968), The Wild Bunch (1969) are among some of his more notable roles -- as is his list of awards (including the above-mentioned Oscar, as well as Emmys, and Golden Globes, among others).

He filmed his last movie, The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez, last year. It is scheduled to be released some time this year.

Mr. Borgnine was 95.

University of Michigan Wolverine Great Bob Chappuis

One of the Wolverine's great football players died June 14 in Ann Arbor. A Wolverine MVP, Collier's All-American and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Chappuis also served in WWII. Shot down over Italy, he spent three months hidden in plain sight from the Nazis.

Old News has gathered together a selection of articles from the Ann Arbor News that cover his career at Michigan. Chappuis joined the Wolverines in 1942, served in WWII from 1943 ~ 1945 and rejoined the Wolverines in 1946, setting records in offensive play. In the undefeated 1947 season, Chappuis finished second for the Heisman Trophy and was featured on the cover of Time Magazine. Michigan went on to win the Rose Bowl with such a decisive win over Southern California, 49 - 0, that AP put out a post-bowl game poll that moved them back in to first place over season-ending first place Notre Dame. We'll be adding stories about Chappuis to the Old News site so keep checking back to read more about one of Michigan's great players.

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