EmptyNellie Lutcher, who played piano for New Orleans blues singer Ma Rainey at age 11 and became well known as a jazz, R&B and pop vocalist in the 1940s and '50s, died June 8 in a Los Angeles hospice. She was 94.
Lutcher's most memorable hits, "Hurry on Down" and "He's a Real Gone Guy," came early in a career that she continued well into her 70s.
Lutcher's father was a bass player who led a big band in Lake Charles, La., and Lutcher played for him as a child. She moved to Los Angeles in 1935 and played with small groups on Central Avenue before signing with Capitol Records in 1947. She had two top 20 hits there with "Fine Brown Frame" and "The Pig Latin Song." She recorded two sides with fellow Capitol artist Nat King Cole ("For You, My Love" and "Can I Come in for a Second") and toured Europe with him.
She continued to perform occasionally until the 1990s, enjoying a resurgence of popularity at the Hollywood Roosevelt Cinegrill and Michael's Pub in New York. This prompted the Bear Family record company in Germany to issue a box set containing her body of work.
Jeanne Davis Glynn, an actress who received several Emmy nominations as a writer for daytime soap operas, died June 8 at a health-care center in New Fairfield, Conn., according to family members. She was 75.
She received five Emmy nominations as a scriptwriter in the 1980s and '90s on "General Hospital," "Guiding Light," "As the World Turns," "One Life to Live" and "Port Charles."
She won a WGA Award in 1984 for her work on "Search for Tomorrow" and a Soap Opera Digest Award six years later for "General Hospital" scripts.
Larry Hamlin, founder of the National Black Theater Festival, died June 6 at his home in Pfafftown, N.C. He was 58.
By the time Hamlin was in first grade, he was infatuated with the stage after being cast by his mother in church plays and pageants. He started the North Carolina Black Repertory Company in 1979, a decade before the festival.
This year, the National Black Theater Festival will be held July 30-Aug. 4 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Sembene Ousmane, the father of Senegalese cinema and one of the pioneers of the art in Africa, died during the weekend of June 10 at his home in Dakar, Senegal. He was 84.
A self-educated fisherman, Ousmane was born in 1923 in the Casamance region of the former French colony. During World War II, he was drafted into the French army and later settled in Marseilles, where he worked on the docks, joined the Communist Party and began writing novels.
He wrote more than a half-dozen books, many critically acclaimed, including "Voltaiques," a volume of short stories published in 1962. It included a story that he turned into a film two years later, earning credit for being sub-Saharan Africa's first feature film.
He went on to make at least 10 movies, including his last film, "Moolade," which won a prize at the Festival de Cannes in 2004.
Justine Gibbs, who served as executive assistant to Teri Meyer, executive vp worldwide publicity at Buena Vista International, died June 8 at her home in Burbank after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She was 66.
Gibbs began her career at Rank Leisure Organization in 1958 and moved to Los Angeles in 1982 when she joined Dennis Davidson Associates, where she rose to the position of executive assistant to chairman Dennis Davidson.
A memorial and reception will be held Saturday at her residence. Details: (323) 785-1021.