Redfield Mason, broke Japan's code

DEATHS ELSEWHERE

July 28, 1995|By New York Times

Redfield Mason, an Indiana farm boy who helped the Navy break the Japanese military code in World War II, then won national fame when he won $100,000 on a television quiz show with an unlikely mastery of Greek and Roman mythology, died July 9 at a nursing home in Warrenton, Va. He was 91.

His family said he had lived on a farm near Warrenton since his retirement from the Navy as a rear admiral in 1966.

In a 45-year naval career, Admiral Mason, who grew up on a farm in Martinsville, Ind., graduated from the Naval Academy in 1925, learned Japanese at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo in the 1930s and was decorated for his command of naval support operations in the Korean War.

As an intelligence officer at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington in World War II, he helped break the Japanese code.

In 1956 during appearances on the NBC quiz show "The Big Surprise," Admiral Mason, then the Atlantic Division commander of military sea transport at the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Navy Yard, demonstrated an exhaustive knowledge of mythology.

Answering four questions about the Trojan War brought him $20,000 on Feb. 25, 1956. Naming the 12 labors of Hercules took him to the $50,000 level March 3. Then, with $100,000 at stake March 20, he was asked to name the women in six mythological triads.

He breezed through the Gorgons, the Harpies, the Graeae and the Graces. He hesitated briefly before naming the Horae, but finished with a flourish, naming Megaera, Tisiphone and Alecto as the Furies.

What made the performance especially impressive, his wife, Truth, said this week, was that until a few weeks earlier he knew virtually nothing about mythology. But he "had the ability to read a book once and know it," she said.

Michael Andrews, 66, whose disturbing paintings made him one of the most notable members of the London art world, died of cancer July 19 in London.

He rendered his paintings in an objective, detached style.

His first one-man exhibition in 1958 was praised by critics. Many of his best paintings are now housed at the Tate Gallery in London, the National Galleries in Melbourne and Canberra, Australia, and with private patrons.

He served briefly as a trustee of the National Gallery in London and was elected to the Royal Academy.

Allan Jackson, 80, a war correspondent who took a memorable photograph of U.S. and Red Army soldiers shaking hands at the Elbe River in Germany in 1945, shot himself to death at his home near Pensacola, Fla., Tuesday. He had been in pain since

suffering a heart attack last year.

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