Categotry Archives: Artists


Robert E. Fulton Jr.


Categories: Artists, Scientists, Writers/Editors

Robert Edison Fulton Jr. once wrote: “One measure of a man is what he does when he has nothing to do.” During his 95 years on the planet, Fulton avoided boredom by filling his days with travel, architecture, writing, film and science.
Fulton first experienced wanderlust and adventure at 12 when he rode the first commercial air flight from Miami to Havana. Two years later, he was present at the opening of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt. After studying architecture at Harvard University and earning a master’s degree from the University of Vienna, Fulton decided to take a motorcycle trip around the world.
Over the next 17 months, he trekked 25,000 miles through 32 countries. His customized bike contained an extra large fuel tank, a secret hiding place for his .32-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and enough room to carry his motion picture camera and 40,000 feet of film. Fulton’s journey was rife with excitement. He was robbed in Waziristan and jailed for smuggling in Indonesia. He was offered a tiger cub for $2 in Malaysia, and was slightly injured when he accidentally rode off a bridge in Turkey. Fulton chronicled his amazing adventures in the book, “One Man Caravan.” His film reels landed him a job as a promotional filmmaker for Pan American Airways.
The New York City native was also an accomplished inventor who accumulated 70 patents in his lifetime. Following the outbreak of World War II, Fulton taught himself to fly then designed the Gunairstructor, a combat gunnery simulator that was used to train Navy pilots. In 1946, he invented the flying car. Known as the Airphibian, the vehicle flew over 100,000 miles and received an endorsement from Charles Lindbergh, but it never got off the ground commercially. A model of the Airphibian can be viewed at the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa. Fulton also designed the Skyhook aerial rescue system, an inflatable balloon with an attached hook that the CIA used in the 1950s to pull agents out of enemy territory. The Skyhook was featured in the 1965 James Bond film “Thunderball.”
Fulton died on May 7 of congestive heart failure.


Syd Hoff


Categories: Artists, Media, Writers/Editors

Syd Hoff, a prolific children’s author and cartoonist, died on May 12 of pneumonia. He was 91.
Hoff was only 16 years old when he began studying at the National Academy of Design in New York City. Although he was a talented painter, many of Hoff’s instructors encouraged him to use his humor and artistic abilities in another venue. Two years later, he sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker, and decided to become a professional cartoonist. From 1931 to 1975, the magazine published 571 of his drawings.
Hoff drew the daily comic strip, “Tuffy,” which appeared for a decade in more than 800 newspapers worldwide, and the long-running syndicated “Laugh It Off” cartoon for 18 years. He freelanced for Esquire, Look and the Saturday Evening Post, and shared his artistic inspirations on the 1950s TV show, “Tales of Hoff.”
During his seven-decade career, Hoff wrote and illustrated 200 children’s books, including “Danny and the Dinosaur,” the story of a dinosaur who comes to life to share adventures with a boy. Part of the “I Can Read” series for young readers, this story became a children’s classic. Hoff also penned the “Sammy the Seal” series and illustrated dozens of books for authors like Louise Armstrong, Joan Lowery Nixon and Alvin Schwartz.


Nick Gordon


Categories: Artists, Media, Writers/Editors

ngordon.jpgNicholas Cranber Gordon, a prominent British wildlife filmmaker, died on April 25 of a heart attack. He was 51.

Born in Twickenham, England, Gordon attended Lindisfarne College in north Wales. Originally trained as a chartered surveyor, he was sidetracked when he joined a sub-aqua club. His first diving experience off the Isle of Man sparked a desire to become a wildlife photographer.

Gordon was 26 when he landed a job as a news cameraman for the BBC. After filming a documentary about alligators and dolphins in China, the ITV wildlife show “Survival” hired him to shoot the giant anaconda in South America.

For the next two decades, Gordon traveled all over the world filming exotic animals and writing about environmental and travel issues. More of a “mover” than a tourist, he would physically transplant himself to places like Guyana, Brazil, Madagascar, Alaska, South Africa, India and the Caribbean for months or years at a time.

Gordon’s expeditions were often dangerous, which earned him the nickname the “real life Indiana Jones.” He endured malaria, dengue fever and hepatitis. He was once imprisoned by the Yananamo people and bitten by an alligator. He even ate roasted tarantulas inside an Indian crypt.

Gordon shot and produced numerous documentaries, but he was best known for the 2001 film, “Jaguar – Eater of Souls.” He also wrote articles for BBC Wildlife Magazine, and the books “Tarantulas, Marmosets and Other Stories” and “In the Heart of the Amazon.”

His production company, Wild at Heart, is currently producing “Secrets of the Amazon,” a new seven-part series. Gordon was shooting tarantula footage for the series in Amazonas, Venezuela, when he died. His final book, “Wild Amazon,” will be published later this year.

Watch Video From “Wild Shots” (Windows Media)


Homer Avila


Categories: Artists

havila.jpgHomer Avila, a world renowned dancer and choreographer who continued performing even after doctors amputated his cancerous right leg and hip, died on April 27. He was 48.
Born in New Orleans, Avila graduated from the University of Knoxville, moved to New York City and launched a dance career that lasted for more than 25 years. A professional choreographer since 1982, he was best known for his work with Avila/Weeks Dance, a modern-dance company he directed with Edisa Weeks. His pieces involved strong imagery, and his teaching inspired hundreds of dancers studying at Wesleyan College, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Spelman College and Oberlin College.
In 2001, Avila was diagnosed with chondro sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Although he had basic health coverage through COBRA, expensive premiums and living expenses still had to be paid during his recovery. In response, the New York Foundation for the Arts launched the One Step Forward fund to help dancers faced with sudden catastrophic health emergencies. Proceeds from a benefit helped pay for Avila’s care.
Undaunted by his disability, Avila returned to dance class six weeks later, and was performing less than a year after his surgery. His first New York program featured a solo he created for himself called “Not/Without Words.” Although his cancer later metastasized and reached his lungs, Avila danced last Friday night. He checked himself into Sloan Kettering on Saturday and died the following day.
Watch Avila Dance a Duet With Andrea Flores


Bette Hughes

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Categories: Artists, Military

Elizabeth “Bette” Schoenmakers Hughes, the first Michigan woman to command an American Legion Post, died on March 19 of a heart attack. She was 82.
Born in Ghent, Minn., and raised in Grosse Pointe, Mich., Hughes graduated from high school and signed up for the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). She trained at Hunter College in New York, and became a photographer stationed in Grosse Ile, Mich., and Jacksonville, Fla.
After the war, Hughes studied photography and interior design at Oklahoma State University. She married, moved to New York and worked at the New York Public Library before returning to Grosse Pointe, Mich., to raise a family. Hughes also worked in interior design for the J.L. Hudson Co., and the Maurice Woods firm. One of her favorite projects involved redecorating an admiral’s quarters on a submarine.
Hughes devoted her spare time to representing area veterans. As head of American Legion Post (No. 303), she attended memorial ceremonies and laid wreaths on the tombs of military personnel. Her ashes will be buried in Byron Cemetery; she’ll be the first female veteran interred there.

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