Oramas dead at 95


Faustino Oramas, a Cuban balladeer who was one of the last remaining stars on the "Buena Vista Social Club" album, died March 27 of liver cancer in his hometown of Holguin. He was 95.

Oramas first made his name as a troubadour, wandering from town to town with his guitar and soon becoming famous for lacing his lyrics with metaphors and sexual innuendo.
"Social Club," spearheaded by American guitarist Ry Cooder, and the documentary by Wim Wenders that accompanied it thrust Oramas onto the international scene in the late 1990s. But he remained candid.

"Death comes, and it doesn't warn you," he said recently. "The day it comes for you, nobody can do anything to stop it."

Freddie Francis, a British cinematographer who won Academy Awards for "Sons and Lovers" (1960) and "Glory" (1989), died March 17 in London of complications from a stroke. He was 89.

Known for his exquisite black-and-white photography in such British films of the 1950s and '60s as "Room at the Top" (1958) and "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" (1960) as well as "Sons and Lovers," Francis also directed more than two dozen films, including the cult favorites "Paranoiac," "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors" and "Tales From the Crypt."
He returned to cinematography when David Lynch hired him to photograph "The Elephant Man" in 1980. That was followed by jobs with other prominent directors, including Karel Reisz for "The French Lieutenant's Woman" in 1981 and Martin Scorsese for "Cape Fear" in 1991.

Francis began his career serving as a camera operator for John Huston on "Moulin Rouge" (1952), "Beat the Devil" (1953) and "Moby Dick" (1956).

Herman Stein, a composer whose music for "It Came From Outer Space," "Creature From the Black Lagoon" and "The Incredible Shrinking Man" helped define the soundtrack of 1950s science fiction and horror movies, died March 15 of congestive heart failure at his Los Angeles home. He was 91.

As a staff composer at Universal Studios, Stein collaborated with Henry Mancini and others to create music for nearly 200 movies and shorts, though he didn't get credit for all of his work because of the studio's practice of giving solo credit to a project's music supervisor.
Nonetheless, Stein has been recognized for writing or co-writing music for an array of movies ranging from Westerns to comedies to dramas. They include Roger Corman's civil rights drama "The Intruder" and Douglas Sirk's comedy "Has Anybody Seen My Gal?"

Carol Richards, a soundtrack singer best known for the Christmas classic "Silver Bells," which she recorded with Bing Crosby, died March 16 of heart disease at Indian River Memorial Hospital in Vero Beach, Fla. She was 84.

It was Richards who voiced the songs of Cyd Charisse in "Brigadoon" (1954), "Silk Stockings" (1957), "It's Always Fair Weather" (1955) and "Deep in My Heart" (1954) as well as those of Betta St. John in "The Robe" (1953) and Vera Ellen in "Call Me Madam" (1953).
The duet "Silver Bells" was featured in the 1951 Bob Hope film "The Lemon Drop Kid," but another version sung by Crosby and Richards made the song famous. She also sang it for the 1991 film "Avalon."

John P. Ryan, an actor known for his character roles in such films as "Bound," "Hoffa," "Runaway Train," "Three O'Clock High," "The Cotton Club," "The Right Stuff," "It's Alive" and "Five Easy Pieces," died March 20 in Los Angeles. He was 70.

A lifetime member of Actors Studio, he appeared in more than 60 film and television productions.