EmptyWilliam Hutt, widely regarded as one of Canada's finest classical actors and a company member at the Stratford Festival for almost four decades, died June 27 of leukemia in Stratford, Ontario. He was 87.
At the Stratford Festival, where he was a founding member, Hutt was involved in 130 productions as either an actor or director.
Among his more memorable performances were the title characters in "King Lear," "Volpone," "Tartuffe," "Richard II" and "Titus Andronicus" as well as such diverse roles as Prospero in "The Tempest," James Tyrone in Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and Thomas More in "A Man for All Seasons."
With his rumbling voice and lion-in-winter mane of white hair, Hutt commanded the stage well into his 80s, winning praise for his last turn onstage at Stratford as Prospero in "Tempest" in 2005.
Hutt joined the Stratford Festival in its inaugural year in 1953 under Tyrone Guthrie's direction. The actor remained with the company for about four decades except for an absence in the mid-1980s, when he moved to the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, for several years.
Edward Yang, who was named best director in 2000 at the Festival de Cannes and was known for his realistic portrayals of modern Taiwan, died June 29 at his home in Beverly Hills after a seven-year battle with colon cancer. He was 59.
Yang favored stories set in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei. Among his works are "A Brighter Summer Day," a 1991 film set in 1950s Taipei about Elvis-worshipping teenage boys who get involved with gangsters.
Yang won in Cannes for "Yi Yi (A One and a Two)," about a Taiwanese family that copes with the serious illness of their elderly mother.
Bill Barber, who rescued the tuba from jazz obsolescence and opened a key role for it in modern jazz orchestration and improvisation, died of congestive heart failure June 18 at his home in Bronxville, N.Y. He was 87.
After its big bell and burry, booming sound helped drive the first jazz bands through the streets of New Orleans, the tuba, whose history dates back to the 16th century, gave way to the string bass in the genre. It was Barber who helped bring it back to the jazz bandstand in 1949 when he joined Gil Evans, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz and other advanced players on Capitol's landmark "Birth of the Cool" album.
A standout soloist, Barber played his ungainly instrument on such later Davis albums as "Blue Miles," "Miles Ahead," "Porgy and Bess" and "Sketches of Spain" as well as recordings led by saxophonists Gigi Gryce, John Coltrane and Mulligan.
In 1947, he had left classical music and joined the musician-admired big band of Claude Thornhill, which had a tuba chair for him plus two French horn players. These warmed and bolstered the woodwinds and helped create the band's unique, cloudlike sound.
Robert Vincent Wright, a longtime television writer whose credits include "Maverick," "Bonanza" and "Lost in Space," died of acute bronchitis and pneumonia June 17 at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 88.
In 1958, Wright was nearly 40 and the supervisor of motion pictures in the engineering division of what was then known as the Boeing Airplane Co. in Seattle when he wrote his first TV script, an episode of "Maverick."
After producing films at Boeing with titles like "Thrust Considerations of Solid State Fuels," the Seattle-born Wright moved to Van Nuys, Calif., with his wife and two sons and went on to write nearly 100 TV episodes of shows including "77 Sunset Strip," "Surfside 6," "Gunsmoke," "The Wild Wild West," "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," "Fantasy Island" and "Little House on the Prairie."