Categotry Archives: Media


Libby Dengrove


Categories: Artists, Media

Ida Libby Dengrove, a courtroom artist who won two Emmy Awards for her illustrated coverage of the “Son of Sam” trial of David Berkowitz and the “Murder at the Met” trial of Craig S. Crimmins, died on April 13 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 86.
Born in Philadelphia to Russian immigrants, Dengrove attended Moore College of Art and studied in Europe on a John Frederick Lewis Memorial Fellowship. She honed her skills during World War II by drawing portraits of wounded soldiers and Army recruits for the U.S.O. In the midst of her war-time travels, she also met her future husband, Edward Dengrove, a psychiatrist who served as a surgeon in China.
Upon their return to the states, the couple wed and settled in New Jersey. Edward opened a home-based practice while Libby raised their three children and continued her training in an upstairs studio. They were married for 64 years, until his death in 2003.
In 1972, NBC News advertised its need for a courtroom artist. Dengrove heard about the job, grabbed her sketchpad and hopped on a Manhattan-bound train. She didn’t bother to set up an appointment; she just walked into NBC Studios and requested a try-out. During her job interview, Dengrove drew sketches of the person in front of her.
She was hired on the spot.
For the next 15 years, Dengrove’s artwork accompanied the network’s trial stories, including the Jonestown massacre, the Mafia and John Lennon’s deportation. As America’s first courtroom television artist, she was able to work around a judicial ban on cameras and efficiently record famous cases in inks and oils. Dengrove discussed her broadcasting experiences in the 1990 memoir, “My Days in Court: Unique Views of the Famous and Infamous by a Court Artist.”
In recent years, Dengrove suffered from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. She never stopped drawing, however, and was known for creating portraits of the people living in her nursing homes.


Dale Messick

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Categories: Artists, Media, Writers/Editors

Dale Messick, the cartoonist who created the long-running, syndicated comic strip “Brenda Starr, Reporter,” died on April 5. Cause of death was not released. She was 98.
The Indiana native didn’t graduate from high school until she was 21, but found her life’s purpose in writing and drawing. In her 20s, Messick spent her days designing greeting cards for Chicago and New York City publishing companies, and her nights drawing comic strips.
At a time when women rarely worked outside of the home, Messick changed her name from the feminine “Dalia” to the more gender-neutral “Dale,” and launched a career in comics. Her first submission, “Streamline Babies,” was rejected by McNaught Syndicate. In 1940, however, Messick created the feisty reporter, Brenda Starr.
Based on actress Rita Hayworth, the curvy, redheaded cartoon journalist enjoyed thousands of thrilling adventures in her printed soap opera. During World War II, Starr became a foreign correspondent, one who chased down spies and sold war bonds. She traveled the world, searched for an elusive black orchid, fought off numerous wild animals and still managed to turn in her stories on deadline. When she wed her handsome and mysterious boyfriend, Basil St. John, in 1976, President Gerald Ford sent the character a telegram bearing his congratulations.
At its peak in the 1950s, “Brenda Starr, Reporter” appeared in 250 newspapers. The strip and its spunky heroine served as the inspiration for three movies and a TV show; Starr also appeared on a U.S. postage stamp.
Messick drew more than 15,000 strips before retiring in 1985. Today, “Brenda Starr, Reporter” is written by Mary Schmich, drawn by June Brigman and syndicated in newspapers around the country by Tribune Media Services. In 1997, Messick won the National Cartoonist Society’s Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award.
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Alec Stall

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Categories: Media, Sports

Alec Stall, an up-and-coming filmmaker, died on Feb. 14 while shooting a movie about extreme skiing. He was 23.
Raised in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Stall graduated last May from the University of Vermont with a degree in political science. While in school, he and his friends formed Meathead Films, a Burlington-based production company dedicated to producing East Coast ski pictures. Meathead Films has released four movies to date, three of which featured Stall.
Stall trekked up Mount Mansfield, the highest of Vermont’s peaks, on Feb. 14 with his friends Kristian Geissler, Chris James and Geoff MacDonald. He was being photographed by James and filmed by MacDonald while freeskiing down the steep chute high above Smugglers’ Notch when he lost his balance and fell about 30 feet from the edge of the cliff. Just then, a slab of snow above Stall broke loose and swept him off the cliff. He fell approximately 500 feet and died from the injuries he sustained. No one else was hurt in the avalanche.
Known as “Thumper” and “Baller,” Stall was passionate about extreme winter sports. From the ages of 12 to 17, he was a member of the freestyle mogul team in Killington, Vt. A slalom and giant slalom racer, Stall hoped to someday live in France in order to participate in the world’s most extreme skiing. Although he knew freeskiing was inherently dangerous, Stall viewed the sport as a natural high.
”You don’t know whether you’ll be able to walk away. You put it all on the line,” he once said.
Watch a Video of Stall in Action


Hunter S. Thompson


Categories: Hollywood, Media, Writers/Editors

hsthompson.jpgHunter Stockton Thompson, the renegade writer who stretched the boundaries of journalism, committed suicide on Feb. 20 at the age of 67. He died at his fortified compound in Woody Creek, Colo., of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Born in Louisville, Ky., Thompson finished high school, but missed the graduation ceremony because he was in jail serving a 60-day sentence for robbery. When he got out, Thompson enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and discovered a passion for journalism. He edited the sports section at an Air Force newspaper in Florida, then worked as a correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune and the National Observer.
In the 1970s, Thompson helped pioneer the “New Journalism” movement. Utilizing first person narrative, he discussed current events and politics in a more novelistic and opinionated manner. While writing for Rolling Stone magazine, the gonzo journalist once covered a district attorneys’ anti-drug conference after taking copious amounts of psychedelic drugs.
The unapologetic and self-destructive writer never graduated from college, yet he bestowed on himself the title of “the good doctor.” His original voice filled nearly a dozen books, including “Hell’s Angels,” “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72” and “Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of a Star-Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century.” Thompson was best known for “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream,” the 1972 book that turned him into a counterculture icon. His latest book, “Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness,” was published in 2004.
Thompson’s influence reached from bookstores to newsstands to Hollywood. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau modeled the balding, pot-smoking character of Uncle Duke in the “Doonesbury” comic strip after Thompson, a move that angered the journalist. At one point, Thompson vowed to set Trudeau on fire, if they ever met. Bill Murray portrayed him in the 1980 film “Where the Buffalo Roam,” and Johnny Depp did so in the 1998 film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” A film adaptation of “The Rum Diary,” Thompson’s only published work of intentional fiction, is currently in production.
Thompson became more reclusive in recent years, spending most of his time shooting firearms in his backyard. In 2000, he accidentally shot his assistant, Deborah Fuller, while chasing a bear off his property. Thompson also wrote the popular column, Hey Rube, for In his most recent column (“Fore!”), he called Murray to discuss a new extreme sport: shooting golf balls like skeet.
[Update, March 8, 2005: Thompson’s body was found in a chair in his kitchen in front of his typewriter. On stationary from the Fourth Amendment Foundation, an organization that defends victims of unwarranted search and seizure, Thompson had typed the word “counselor” in the center of the page. He also left behind a suicide note.]
[Update, Aug. 22, 2005: In keeping with his wishes, Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes were fired from a 153-foot tower erected in Woody Creek, Colo., on Saturday. About 250 friends and family attended the private ceremony, including actors Johnny Depp and Bill Murray, musician Lyle Lovett and Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.).]
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Complete Coverage From The New York Times


Abdul Hussein al-Basri

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Categories: Media, Writers/Editors

Abdul Hussein Khazal al-Basri, an Iraqi journalist working for the U.S.-funded television station Al-Hurra, was murdered on Feb. 9. He was 40.
Al-Basri and his 3-year-old son, Mohammed, were leaving their Basra home when three gunmen opened fire on them. The boy was also killed.
Launched in February 2004, Al-Hurra (“The Free Ones”) tailors its programming to Arab audiences and competes with Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. Al-Hurra has been denounced by several Muslim clerics as a source of American propaganda.
Prior to joining Al-Hurra, al-Basri worked as a correspondent for Iraq’s Radio Sawa. He edited a local newspaper in Basra and was a member of the political office of the Islamic Dawa Party, an influential Shiite movement. Al-Basri was also head of the Basra City Council press office.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 36 other journalists have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began in 2003. Another 18 media workers — drivers, translators and security guards working for members of the news media — have also been killed.

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